2023 Finalists: James Edgar and Ethan Wilson of Wilden View – Sheep & Beef, Forestry, Deer
An impressive transformation has taken place at these West Otago farms, resulting in a dramatic increase in stock numbers while preserving the area’s iconic tussock.
James Edgar operates two farms under the business name of Wilden View, guided by a vision of bringing intensive farming to the hills. He has owned Chestermain since 2014, and purchased a second property called Glenoykel in 2021 after leasing it for five years – bringing the total effective farmed area to 990ha.
The expansion, along with careful planning, has seen stock numbers increase from 3,000 to 12,000 in the space of nine years. James and his stock manager Ethan Wilson are also gradually diversifying the original sheep farms so they now include cattle, deer and trees.
Clear financial priorities have resulted in significant investment at Chestermain over the past nine years, including extensive new fencing, satellite sheep yards and reticulated water being installed in every paddock.
Pasture renewal is a priority, achieved through careful soil management and tailoring stock to suit the land. As a result, the property now boasts excellent stock and grass – against a sweeping backdrop of native tussock which has been carefully integrated into the farm’s operation. Native tree plantings and careful winter grazing methods further enhance the environment.
Sheep contribute 75% to the business’s income, with the balance coming from beef, although James is gradually diversifying into forestry and deer.
James brings a quarterback philosophy to his farming – sourcing talented people and letting them find their own path as they develop and grow. This is the case with Ethan and also when it comes to seeking advice from other rural professionals.
While successfully expanding the business, James and Ethan balance their hard work with off-farm activities where they connect in with the wider community.
Enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards