Susannah Guscott grew up in Gisborne on her family sheep and beef farm. On leaving school she ventured to Lincoln University, where she met her now husband, Mark. After university Susannah went onto work for the district council in Taupo, working in environmental planning. Whilst working here she saved up to head off travelling around Europe and living in France with Mark. After getting engaged in Budapest, they came home to get married and became involved on Mark’s family’ sheep and beef farm, Glen Eden, in the Wairarapa.
They now run the 6-generation 630ha farm as well as lease another 200ha from Marks’ parents Phil and Jo. Here they run a breeding, finishing and cropping operation; utilising the contour to its strengths. With cropping making up about a third of their business another important part of their business is the lamb that they produce. All of their lamb goes to Atkins Ranch, which supplies 100% grass-fed, non-GMO lamb predominantly to the US. Atkins Ranch was founded by Philip Guscott (Marks father), and his friend and business partner John Atkins, in San Fransisco in 1989.
With Atkins Ranch supplying Wholefood supermarkets across the US, Susannah has enjoyed supplying their product to a smaller family centric lamb marketing company which allows them to get closer to the consumer. On a trip to the US, Susannah and Mark set up some tasting stations in the supermarkets. "People just ‘flocked’ to us. Firstly, due to our Kiwi accent and secondly due to the NZ lamb being 100% grass fed which is a welcomed change to barn-raised lamb. Within the supermarkets the meat is mainly purchased over the deli from a butcher so ensuring that the butchers know and tell the ‘story’ and understand the brand they are selling is really important."
Very conscious of their environmental footprint, Susannah and Mark are currently piloting a new ten year farm plan for the Greater Wellington Regional Council which includes an inclusive focus around the whole farm environment, including pole planting, native planting, fencing, and wet land protection etc. On Glen Eden they have carried out Wetland planting (3ha), flax shelter belts for protection on the flats, and planted gum and oak trees for shade.
Having a passion for the environment, Susannah has also been one of the drivers in setting up their local Catchment Group - the Ponatahi Ecozone. They have organised many days to get together as a local community to plant waterways, wetland areas and to do water quality monitoring.
"Not only is it beneficial environmentally but also socially. Everyone in our watershed was keen to be involved as they all recognise that their land is their most valuable resource and the need to protect and enhance it. Combining labour makes short work of a planting project which is great as most farmers are time poor!”.
And her involvement doesn’t stop there. Before having children and after her first child Susannah also worked at the regional council in Masterton, and more recently for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, as the judging coordinator as well as some voluntary work for Rabobank as co-chair of the East Coast Client Council.
With three young school age children it has always been a dream of Susannah’s to have a business of her own that she could manage whilst still being able to be at home for her kids. Finally with building consent received for a new accommodation project, that dream is a little closer to being realised.
Susannah, we love how you and your family are out on the global stage showcasing you premium product, all while ensuring the environmental footprint at home is in line. Keep up the amazing work and all the best for your next project.