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Dave and Sarah Smith: Future-Proofing the Farm


Nestled away in the East Otago landscape, filled with tussocks, plain land and rolling hills, you will find the home of Dave and Sarah Smith, beef and sheep farmers at Mt Watkins Farm. A 45-minute drive from Dunedin, their farm is an idyllic spot featuring livestock, forestry and their luxury, off -the-grid Fallow Ridge Retreat where guests can enjoy a slice of rural paradise.

Mt Watkins Farm is a 1,436-hectare property that comprises 4,200 ewes, 1,000 hoggets, 250 cows and 200 fattening cattle. They also lease 200 hectares of the neighbouring block, having added to the property since they took ownership of Mt Watkins Farm last year, but have been responsible for farming it since 2006.

In 2012, they also dedicated seven hectares to the QEII covenant in partnership with the Game Bird Habitat Trust, with the wetlands featuring three ponds for ducks and native birds. Dave and Sarah employed a contractor to help build the dams whilst the two of them carried out the fencing projects. They have planted a good number of native trees in the wetlands, but otherwise have left nature to restore itself. During lockdown, the Smiths had a lovely time participating in various activities on their farm; one of their projects was to construct a seat out of k?nuka branches. The bench now overlooks the wetlands and guests from the retreat can wander down and enjoy another part of Mt Watkins Farm.