Paul and Marie Renton are focussed on adding value. They’re investing in Glenmore, their 566ha property at Mangatahi, west of Hastings, by planting trees and making their farm business more profitable by being involved in First Light.

The Rentons currently finish about 500 weaner deer, run 1,800 Romney ewes and finish about 200 bulls on their 500ha of effective land. The balance of the property is in renewable forestry — pine trees, and regenerating native bush. With funding from their local Hawke’s Bay Regional Council they are continuously fencing off erodible land and creating shelter belts. “We’re trying to head in the direction of sustainability. We’re planting more trees, adding value to the asset we have.

“Beautifying the place is really Marie’s passion. We’ve planted cedars, acacias, poplars and eucalypts as shade for the stock but also to improve how the farm looks. We’ve recently planted the last 5km of the road leading up to our place. It will be great, very park-like, in a few years time when the trees all grow,” says Paul.

The Rentons buy in about 500 weaner stags in April and May from a breeder on the East Coast from whom they have purchased stock for years. They know the quality of the stock and have built an ongoing relationship with the farmer. The stock are finished over six months and slaughtered from October onwards. They began deer farming in the early 1980s but changed from a breeding and finishing system to finishing only four years ago in an effort to simplify their operation.

They joined First Light because they wanted to be involved in adding value to what they produce. “And we liked being part of a producer group with other likeminded farmers. There is a lot of transfer of ideas within the group. It’s good to be part of a group of farmers all heading in the same direction.”

While Paul enjoys a steak, he says you can’t go past a good venison sausage cooked just right on the barbecue.