Sam Waugh of Donald’s Farm


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2024 Auckland Finalists: Sam Waugh of Donald’s Farm – Dairy

Donald’s Farm is small in size but not in stature, with this not-for-profit educational dairy operation existing for the purpose of connecting young people with farming. 
In 2018, the 74ha (63 ha effective) property was gifted by Donald Pearson to New Zealand Young Farmers and today it operates as a commercial dairy farm and educational facility in the urban setting of Auckland.  
The farms Board members work alongside Farm Manager Sam Waugh to showcase the primary sector to visitors. While mainly pitched at children, they offer activities for all ages, including tours and practical, hands-on learning experiences.  
The unique business is just starting out, however it’s already both profitable and sustainable. It hosts about 900 people per year, with the long-term goal being to show how and where food is produced to 5,000 people annually.  
They currently milk a peak of 124 cows, and in the 2022/23 season produced 357kg of milk solids per cow – an increase of 60% over three years.  
This turnaround is thanks to a sharp focus on boosting the farm’s production. Since taking over, the team has changed cow breed and crops to better match the land type, plus improved soil fertility and pasture management.  
Meanwhile, they’ve carried out a significant amount of riparian fencing and planting, and the construction of an on-site nursery is underway. Working with Conservation Volunteers New Zealand, their goal for the nursery is to grow 50,000 native trees annually to plant on the farm and along Papakura Stream, plus use the nursery as a teaching facility. The planting programme supports a goal of ensuring drinkable water leaves the farm’s waterways. 
The judges were impressed with how Donald’s Farm is combining commerce and education – ultimately showcasing agriculture as a viable career path.  
Through hard work and dedication, Sam, Julie and the board, and the wider New Zealand Young Farmers team have transformed this property, positioning it to achieve their big, future-focused goals. 

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