Rural/urban divide exaggerated

Don’t under-estimate the benefits of bringing up a family in the country,

In Community4 Minutes
Tim and Binds White having a brew outside the Fallow Hut Lodging.

By Tony Leggett

Don’t under-estimate the benefits of bringing up a family in the country, Binds White says.

She and husband Tim are this year’s Keinzley Ag Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year award winners. They both had business careers outside farming before making the switch to full-time farming 10 years ago.

The couple have a farm stay cottage on the farm, called Fallow Hut, and most of their visitors are town or city folk keen on a stay in the country. The direct contact with them has changed Binds’s perspective on the size of the so-called urban-rural divide.

“It’s a big topic I know but we find their values and goals are closely aligned with ours.”

She says most of our visitors who stay at Fallow Hut feel it’s a privilege to stay on their farm and love the experience of country living.

It has highlighted the many benefits their own two daughters have enjoyed as kids growing up in the country.

“Raising a family on a farm has lots of benefits that our visitors don’t get. There are lots of enjoyable things, and life lessons too.”

She says they get to shoot their first deer or rabbit, ride a horse bareback and swim them in the river, and learn to drive and do 360 hand-brakies. There’s spotlighting, bonfires, docking, eventing, planting, endless mates to visit and a great work-life balance.

Binds and Tim are big travellers and always set goals around getting off the farm to refresh and enjoy new places. They are active relaxers and rarely book anything in advance when they travel, in stark contrast to the budgeted, detailed way they run their farm business.

“Our latest thing is e-biking and there is plenty of scope for that around here,” Binds says.

The first Covid lockdown in 2020 provided just the time for the family to connect with their neighbours and they established a community group with the vision of “know better, do better”.

They also renovated a redundant woolshed on the property and turned it into the Duck & Hare just in time to celebrate a 21st birthday for their eldest daughter Grace. It’s become a focal point for occasional community gatherings and a popular venue for birthday and anniversary celebrations.

Binds says they always encouraged their two children to grow their own futures and not feel any expectation to take over running the farm in the future.

As a family, they decided they didn’t want to create a set of goals then ignore them.

“What use are they if you don’t return to them and hold yourself accountable?”

Words like resilience and adaptability won’t be among their goals.

“Farmers are already experts at pivoting when something changes, and resilience is ingrained in most farming families too,” Binds says.

The Whites list their goals under headings: today, tomorrow, this month, this financial year and next financial year and review them often.