“Farming is the most interesting job you can have, from measuring pasture growth, to policy planning, to crutching ewes - it ROCKS!!!”
Nicky Berger is a passionate advocate for helping farmers and non-farmers understand each other better. After listening to plenty of negative comments from both sides over the years, she found that she’d had "a bit of a gutsful", and it’s become her mission to be part of an Agri-food generation that all New Zealanders understand and are proud of.
“I want 4 million people telling our agrifood story to the world and let’s make sure that it’s a great story to tell!”.
Nicky and her husband Dan farm a 600ha sheep and beef operation in New Zealand’s biggest city, and most populated region, Auckland. Their business is split over a couple of different farming blocks, so most days it sees Dan flitting around the Auckland countryside, with Nicky trailing along as required. Multiple stock classes and blocks makes the business fairly complicated - no two years are the same, and the 30th of June stock reconciliation each year can involve some earnest discussion between this husband and wife team.
After completing a Bachelor of Planning at Auckland University, and working in the building industry, Nicky had the opportunity to move out of the city and go farming. In 2004 she joined Dan on his lease block at the time, ‘just to see how it went’. They ended up organising an open shearing run for a couple of years, whilst building up their farming business. 13 years later, there’s been a wedding, a couple of funerals, four kids, and a farm business that gets her excited about getting out of bed every day.
Nicky has also created some fun memories whilst learning this farming business, like the time she put 20 litres of drench in the ute instead of diesel, and the time she proudly lambed a friend’s triplets, and had to go back the next day to find her wedding ring in the placenta.
Very much a part of her local community and the wider Ag-sector, Nicky is the deputy Chair of her local primary school’s Board of Trustees, and is an elected Farmer Councillor on the Beef and Lamb New Zealand Northern Farmer Council. She is a passionate advocate of the work of the Agri Women's Development Trust (AWDT), who she credits them with adding transformational value to the sector in just a few short years.
For Nicky, the main challenge of farming in New Zealand's most populated region is she’s always in the middle; “You get some farmers talking about bloody Aucklander’s, and then some Aucklander’s talking about bloody farmers, and I’m blimmin’ both, so I can’t win!”.
In 2017, Nicky and fellow farmer Clare Dill launched GrassFed in the City on Facebook, a rural-urban engagement project designed to help farmers and non-farmers understand each other better, and help New Zealanders learn more about their amazing agrifood sector.
“People in Auckland get really excited when you tell them how many sheep you’ve got to shear or how many bulls you have - you see them light up that their city actually has a significant farming component. I think it’s something most Aucklander’s would be really proud of, but they’re not hearing their city’s rural stories, and with Grassfed in the City we’d like to share those stories in a fun, interactive way”.
Getting our stories out there is a huge part of moving the agricultural sector forward, creating commonality and understanding between the urban and rural sectors is something that we applaud. We love the idea of Grassfed in the City, and wish you all the best in making it fly! Go Nicky!