When we approached Sophie Rowland, like most down to earth rural woman, she didn’t believe she was very exciting. However, this sheep and beef farmer, and new mother to baby George, is definitely one of those agwoman who is full of talent and keeps the ship sailing at home.
Sophie grew up on a sheep and beef property in Southland and has always been passionate about farming. It was part of her life and like most rural kids it was normal to be involved and be hands on from a young age. It was this upbringing that shaped her dreams to be farmer. As the youngest of four looking back she believes that being able to watch and help whether it was, stock work or putting the stamps on the envelope when dad paid the bills, was all experience building and ignited the passion she still has today.
Sophie attended Lincoln University where she studied a BCom ag and valuation which moved her into being a bank manager for 7 years. She never thought she would be part of the financial sector until positions started to be advertised. After her first position at the bank, she decided to travel and was based in Scotland working on a few different farms. Sophie loved the experience and describes Scotland as an amazing place but her desire to get back to New Zealand and farm grew more and more.
After returning from overseas she worked as a rural banker and farmed with her parents. Sophie wanted to concentrate on farming so finished banking to chase her desire, she really craved the physical side of farming. While Sophie enjoyed her time banking she just wanted to be hands on farming. She found it to be a privilege to see into so many diverse business’s, different ways of farming, and often thinks now that she would love to sit back at the kitchen tables of the different farmers and ask more questions!
Family succession gave her and husband, Todd, the opportunity to purchase the property they now farm in the Owaka Valley in 2014. They consider themselves very fortunate to get their hands stuck into their own business at a young age. Sophie and Todd have a drive to have a successful business where they can provide for their family and give opportunities to the next generation. This is what Sophie says gets them out of bed each day they love what they do, and Sophie jokes the debt gets them going also.
In September their first child George arrived and Sophie’s role on the farm changed. She loves being a mother and still try’s to be as hands on as possible. “It’s just so fortunate that we can involve children in our business. Todd and I work well as a team, I think he would agree, we both have different strengths and weakness’s and I'm lucky to be with someone that shares similar goals.”
Continued family support is very important and cherished to the Rowlands. Having family, friends and past bosses available to ask for help and guidance has also been very important to Sophie and Todd, and Sophie believes to keep improving their business they need to challenge both themselves and their business. “We continue to learn so much we have made some stupid decisions but we have learnt not to do that again”.
Sophie and her family live and breathe agriculture, it’s their work and play. At the moment there is probably more work than play and Sophie thinks maybe sometimes they need to spend more time away from the farm, but most of our friends and hobbies are all about agriculture so it doesn’t always feel like a job!
“I just love everything about it, working with stock, continued challenges, family involvement, business potential and NZ agriculture opportunities all things that excite me about agriculture.”
Sophie is a very passionate agwoman who love seeing people get involved from diverse backgrounds. So many people involved in agriculture are keen to help others and she is one of them! Your one tough cookie Mrs Rowland! George sure does have a great female role model with big shoes to fill!