Elizabeth Barkla de Gortazar may have started her life as the eldest of 5 siblings on a dairy farm in Taranaki, however where she now calls home is now a long way from Taranaki. Four years ago together with her husband José they purchased their first farm just outside Coyhaique in Chilean Patagonia.
Following an education of home schooling and working on the family farm for two years, Liz headed on an International Agricultural Exchange Association and the first 2 years of her travels were with them. Liz says they are a great organisation and awesome way to get you foot into doors around the world. She worked on farms in Canada, Sweden, USA for 5 years, then returned to NZ to manage the family farm. While home she attended Lincoln University to complete a diploma in farm management and bachelor of agricultural commerce. Her degree then took her into a position at BNZ as part of the agribusiness team. However, this was short lived as Liz always felt she was on the wrong side of the kitchen table, so she repacked her bags quit her position and travelled to Europe. Little did she know this would be the start of her new future outside of New Zealand.
It was on the way home in 2009 when a planned 2 weeks to stay with friends in Patagonia, Chile turned into a 2 year stay. Liz gained a position on a 100,000ha station in Tierra del Fuego, it was the first large scale farm in Chile to work with Holistic Management and Multi-Purpose Merino sheep. Then just like a script from Mcleods daughters this outgoing adventure woman started dating the local vet Jose Gortazar whom she now proudly calls her husband.
Jose was also a consultant and holistic management educator and Liz soon grew a passion for holistic practises herself. They moved to Punta Arenas in 2011 and she worked with José in his consultancy and veterinary business, Ovitec. The job had a lot of variety including being involved with doing fresh semen sheep artificial insemination at large scale and she also worked and trained as wool classifier.
Fast forward a few years and Liz is now a fully trained as holistic management educator herself and has a huge passion for nutrition and particularly how pasture-raised animal products are so important to our health and the importance of our microbiome for physical and mental health.
Today you will find Liz based on their 1000ha property which runs various entity’s across it. This agwoman is a jack of all trades with involvement across the business.
The property runs 2000 multiple purpose merino sheep which helps keep Liz close to her NZ roots, as well as finishing cattle.
500ha of beech forest is utlised for firewood production while three commercial greenhouses, producing organic baby salad mixes and strawberries for local hotels, restaurants, lodges and families. Then just when you thought they couldn’t get any more diverse 650 free range hens produce eggs for the local market and horse treks and farm tours ensure all the properties assets are utlised. Glamping accommodation is also an option. Talk about a tourism paradise and what a place to live.
Liz is the proud mother to daughter Sara, aged 3 and son, Benjamin, 1 month. Both born at home and plan to be home-schooled, in a country where neither of the above are known concepts. Talk about a challenge tackler, Liz you are sure one amazing Agwoman who has made an amazing life for yourself and your family. You juggle so much on a day to day basis, keep up the great work! We hope you get some time for your passions of cooking, reading and knitting sometime soon!