There probably isn’t anything that Sarah Coogan wouldn’t have a crack at.
The mother of three, who lives on a 465ha sheep and beef farm in Tarata, Taranaki, has a can-do attitude and whether she’s docking, paying GST or welcoming a bus of school students to the farm, Sarah is in her element.
Sarah and her husband Jarred, bought into her parent’s (Bryan and Helen Hocken’s) farm in 2015, creating a family company – but this team has a unique story to tell, one that very little, if any, could share.
“This farm was bought in 1946 by my mum’s parents and family, the Cartwright brothers. My mum was born on the farm and when she was six, the farm was sold to my father’s parents – at which time my dad was also six,” she says.
After meeting later at Young Farmers, Sarah’s mum and dad married, had 3 kids and took over the farm in 1982. “It is quite special and unique that I am now farming the same land that my parents and both sets of grandparents farmed,” she says.
After completing a Bachelor of Management Studies, majoring in International Marketing and Spanish at Waikato University, Sarah’s next ten years were involved in the dairy industry; working in marketing, supply chain, logistics and management.
She began with The New Zealand Dairy Board in Wellington, before taking a role with New Zealand Milk in the Philippines. She then returned to New Zealand where she worked for Mainland Products and Fonterra Brands in Taranaki.
Sarah and husband Jarred are enjoying watching their 3 kids grow up on the family farm, and have realised how many children from towns don’t get to experience this way of life. This led to Sarah and Jarred working with New Zealand Young Farmers to fund school visits for over 400 intermediate aged kids through the farm.
“We talk to them about the types of animals we farm and why, the importance of dogs, the uses and benefits of wool. We also show photos of various activities on a sheep and beef farm through the year and finish off with discussing career options in the agricultural sector,” she says.
The farm, with 5,500 stock units won the 2019 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards, which was the first time that the farm had entered.
As if that wasn’t enough to juggle, the family also host overseas visitors and volunteers, local community groups, and open the farm up to community fundraising events such as horse treks and adventure races.
“We are also all involved in committees for the local Hall, Dog Trials and Church, plus School PTA,” she says.
The environment is important to the Coogan family, recently creating a new 3.2ha QE II bush this year. “We are also enhancing an existing QE II and fencing off other native bush blocks,” she says.
While looking after the household and business accounts, Sarah is also on call in the cattle or sheep yards, docking pens, feeding out, shifting breaks, rearing orphan lambs and cooking for shearers.
When asked how she feels about being an AgWoman, her answer was simple.
“My kind and hardworking mum is my inspiration”