We met in 2013, from completely different backgrounds - Dion being a farmer for all of his working life and has been farming sheep and beef in the Wairarapa for over 15 years. I (Ali) was a manager in Wellington and a born and bred city chick. It wasn’t long before I joined Dion in business as well as romantically moving up from Wellington to the Wairarapa. Farm life was very different from city life for me, but one thing that I really noticed was the difference in the quality of meat that I was eating at the farm versus what I was used to from the supermarket.
While our lambs and cattle were being supplied to CR Grace, the procurement arm of Taylor Preston Ltd for the export market. We shared a vision to take a portion of our farming business beyond the farmgate themselves and directly into the homes of New Zealanders.
We launched Homegrown Farm Fresh Meats in 2017, embracing the idea of eating how the farmer eats - good old fashioned nose to tail eating. Offering Whole and Half Lamb Boxes and Beef Packs from our farm to your home, connecting our customers with where their food has come from and the story behind where the animal was born and raised.
Since 2017, we have been delivering our beautiful award-winning meat around the country and in July 2019, we bought Joe's Meat Market in Masterton - 19 km’s from our Bideford farm. One of the biggest drivers here was to enable us to open up our offering to our customers allowing them to buy smaller quantities and individual cuts as well as the boxes.
We very quickly closed the doors of Joes for an extensive re-do/makeover and a rebrand to open 8 weeks later in late September as Homegrown Butcher, Deli & Pantry. We created a space which has been described as an “old fashioned butchery in a modern funky setting”. It has become a much-loved place to come, explore, get cooking advice and purchase our beautiful Homegrown Farm Fresh Beef, Lamb & Pork. We also have a deli with in-store crafted Black Puddings, Ham, Salami and pantry products that we love which accompany our meat perfectly.
After Covid-19 has undeniably hit businesses hard especially the smaller food operators like ourselves. We were in a position where our store frontage during Level 3 & 4 had to close only 6 months after opening. Thankfully, we were able to continue online, creating a separate online store for the Butchery, so we could cater to both our local and nationwide customers needs. After lockdown ended, we had to look at how we were operating and looking at what our customers were asking for, while still keeping the same values that we had started with in 2017.
We made the decision to combine both our online stores, moving to have Homegrown Farm Fresh Meats as a brand of Homegrown Butcher, Deli and Pantry which allows our customers to not only order boxes but also order all the individual cuts and artisan pantry products we have in store. Now whether you are shopping our Homegrown online store in Auckland or locally, you will have access to our homegrown farm fresh Beef, Lamb and now Pork all grown by Dion & I!
If you would like to learn more about our story and our business, we were lucky enough to be featured on Country Calendar in 2019, although this episode is from before we opened the butchery it gives a lot of insight into how our business got to where it is now and how our business runs, from on the farms right through to when our customer’s meat is dispatched.