Lou White had a privileged upbringing on her parents sheep and beef farm East of Masterton. Farming then, was very family orientated and Lou would love for her children to foster the same passion for the land that they are lucky to be caretakers of. Growing up Lou had strong female role models in her mother and grand-mother, who were the farm’s right-hand women. "We never had a worker back then… it was mum."
As kids, Lou and brother Richard were packed off daily to help in the yards, the shearing shed, mustering, feeding out or out the back of the farm docking. Lou developed a passion for ponies in these early days and this has followed her throughout.
Following 5 years as a weekly boarder at St Matthew's Collegiate Schools, Lou spent a year in the UK working first in a prep school in England where children brought their ponies to boarding school, and then for a horse dealer in Northern Ireland. She continued on to study at the University of Canterbury completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Political Science and Mass Communications. Realising a political career wasn’t quite for her, she completed a Graduate Diploma in Primary Teaching at Canterbury.
Although Lou's time at Uni wasn’t directly related to the agricultural Industry, she came home for summer holidays to work in the shearing sheds in the Wairarapa. Throughout her time at Uni she rode trackwork at Riccarton Racecourse six mornings a week. "Many mornings riding 9 horses before heading off to lectures. I don’t miss those 4.45am starts. I was lucky in this time to spend three seasons whipping for Brackenfield Hunt in North Canterbury. Barely missing any hunts in those years, I had to ensure I chose my papers not to fall on mid- week hunting days."
Lou's first teaching job was back in the Wairarapa teaching at her old primary school ironically, which gave her a fantastic grounding. Shortly after this Lou met Simon and moved to Hawkes Bay to take up a decile 1 teaching position in Flaxmere. This job, although challenging, was very rewarding and gave her insight into how wide the rural-urban divide can be, something she would love to see change within the sector somehow.
Fast forward eight years, Simon and Lou are married, have three children, Millie (3), George (2) and Oscar (9months), and are running Simon’s family farm in Otane, Central Hawkes Bay. "I’ve had to adjust to a new way of farming life with how intensive it is living on a cropping farm, especially the summer harvest. We farm 650ha and grow squash, maize, barley, wheat, grass seed, coriander, sweet corn, carrots, peas and our latest venture, Hemp Seed Oil."
With a business partner, they have set up a company, Kanapu Hemp Foods Limited, New Zealand and produce the Hemp seed oil right through from planting to being dried, pressed, bottled and sold. This is something they find exciting thing to be part of. They also trade winter lambs and fatten Fresian bulls, getting them in as weaners and taking them through to 2 year olds.
"As having three such young children is full time in itself, I’m not as actively involved in the farm right now as I aim to be in the future. I recently attended the Agri-Women's Development Trust (AWDT) Understanding Your Farming Business Course which has been so inspirational. As we continue through our farm succession, and as our children get older I’m looking forward to becoming more ‘hands on’ in the business."
Lou is an avid animal lover and they have somewhat of a petting zoo around their house and adjoining paddocks. The kids and Lou have a busy morning routine feeding animals; chickens, pigs, milking the house cow Milky, a rabbit, dogs, cat, pet sheep and the kids ponies as well as Lou's horses. "I love the way that having animals teaches kids responsibility from a young age, also where our food comes from and how we can be self-sufficient."
We love to see when people who have been brought up rurally find that it is such a strong part of their being that they find themselves coming right back to where they belong. It is fantastic to see you bringing up the next generation with the same love you had for the land when you were young. Exciting times for you Lou.
Photo credit 'Lawrence Racing’.