Farm park with a mission

CHARLOTTE SQUIRE
Last updated 09:04 20/02/2014
Bencarri Farm
CHARLOTTE SQUIRE/FAIRFAX NZ

CALL IT HOME: Some of Bencarri Farm’s new staff, from left, Kye Wright holding Eloakin, Al Kurran, Bee Fradis, Aya Wright, Ian Purves with Peanut the pony, Linda Ross and Owen Crafar holding Kahurangi.

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When the animals at Bencarri Farm don't feel like coming to work, they stay home on the hills of the Golden Bay property.

So says the group that has taken over the Golden Bay tourist attraction, and intends to run it according to permaculture principles that involve sustainable practices.

The nature park and cafe, known for its tame eels, has been bought by entrepreneur Ian Purves, who will run the farm in partnership with holistic nutritionist and chef Linda Ross and farm manager Owen Crafar. They will also be supported by "other wonderful people, too numerous to mention", Mr Purves said.

Ms Ross said the initial aim of the group is to "observe, witness and run things as they are, making easy micro-changes only".

"Observe and interact, it's the first principle of permaculture," said Mr Purves, who has completed permaculture training and tries to let it guide everything he does. "It just seems a really important skills set for these times, with the spectre of peak oil still looming on the horizon, I think permaculture still offers a really useful tool kit of principles and techniques.

"Applying permaculture to Bencarri, I'd really love to see this becoming a permaculture education centre."

Mr Purves and his friends had been looking for a place in Golden Bay to run as a collective for the past 10 years.

"We've all been called to the Bay from all over New Zealand. For the magic of the climate and the community and how strong and potent the natural environment still is here, particularly the forests and rivers," he said.

Mr Crafar said that after a few years of applying the permaculture principles to Bencarri farm he was looking forward to having some practical examples of "permaculture in action" on the property to share with visitors.

Ms Ross said the while they intended to honour the Bencarri traditions such as feeding the eels, keeping the many animals, offering spit roasts, holding private events and weddings, the group intended to offer seasonal, local and organically focused wholesome meals.

The group also intend to introduce live music and artists in residence.

Bencarri has about 30 to 40 animals including yaks, emu, lamas, and donkeys.

"Anyone wanting a seven-week-old mini kune-kune boar should get in touch," Ms Ross said.

Mr Purves said Bencarri was not a zoo, but a farm park, with its animals living on 8 hectares. "This is just their day job. Anyone who doesn't want to come to work on the day doesn't have to."

Bencarri Farm will be open until May 5 and reopen at the end of September. It will be honouring all season passes until the end of this season.

The hours of Bencarri Farm will continue to be seven days a week, from 10am until 5pm, weather permitting.

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