Jenny Bargh grew up on the outskirts of Gisborne, on what nowadays would be called a life style block. On leaving school she trained as a School Dental Nurse. After graduating Jenny returned to Gisborne. It was while working at a country school dental clinic that she met her husband Chris who was from the South Wairarapa.
The couple married and took up an 8 year lease on a farm near Martinborough. In 1981 they purchased a hill country farm on the remote Tora coast, 50kms from Martinborough. By then Jenny and Chris had 5 children, with Jenny very much the home maker, and Chris worked out on the farm.
In 1995, when Jenny was 45, an opportunity arose to start a 3-day walking business with some neighbouring farmers. The idea was that people could come and walk over the farm tracks, stay the night at each of their properties and they would provide them with their meals. Jenny loves to cook so this was a dream job for her. There wasn’t a huge capital outlay to start this business as they all had redundant farm buildings to accommodate the walkers.
"My father (who really was the proverbial friendly butcher) said “Treat people the way you like to be treated” and I think that’s the best advice I ever had. Our farm is hard hill country and was often, due to droughts, storms and low stock prices, only just viable. So over time the Tora Coastal Walk business has been a tremendous financial assistance to us."
In the early days my friends used to say “So you don’t get to see the money from the walk?” I would say “Well I do. I see it pouring out over our hills from the topdressing plane!”
The Tora Coastal Walk is now into its 23rd season and Jenny feels extremely privileged to have meet many amazing people from all walks of life along the way. Many of the walkers have never been onto a farm before and they enjoy the farm owners sharing their rural lives with them.
For the last 19 years Jenny has been business partners alongside Kiri Elworthy. The two are lucky to share a very special friendship and working relationship. "It is amazing really considering there is a 20-year age difference. I think she keeps me young at heart and maybe sometimes I have some words of wisdom for her. Also I think we have complete trust in each other and our goals are very similar for running a successful enterprise."