PHOTO: Adam Thompson (Susan Murray)
Switching from mortgage broker to beef farmer, and native plant grower to predator trapper is all in a week’s work for 36-year-old Adam Thompson.
This Waikato man even does it with a great smile on his face and a laugh in his voice.
Mortgage broking was his full-time employment during his 20s, he loved helping first-time homeowners into a property, he still has shares in the company he set up – My Mortgage – and puts in 5-10 hours a week.
But it is a business called Restore Native which takes up 2 hectares on his 180-hectare beef farm (Charolais cattle) at Te Miro near Cambridge which really gets him up in the morning.
This year they sold half a million native seedlings to farmers and councils, many in Waikato, but elsewhere in the North Island too, next year it will be a million, the year after that another million, he’s recently added a new potting shed and other infrastructure to help the expansion.
Adam says it is hugely rewarding helping farmers repair and restore gullies, steep hillsides and stream banks, transforming unproductive land into something beautiful with an environmental benefit as well.
His clients are all types, a lot are older dry stock farmers but there are also “progressive young farmers who are looking at ‘hey the market demand is changing we need to be protecting the environment and need to be doing the right thing on farm.’
“Really cool stuff is happening,” he says.
Restoration work isn’t cheap and can be off-putting, but one of Adam’s aims is keeping prices affordable – seedlings are $2.50, if his team does the planting as well that price can double.
There’s no such thing as an average client but many buy 2000 to 4000 trees and spend $10,000 to $20,000 a year, “and they come back year after year”.
Adam’s farm is a testament to his planting programme.
In five years a once muddy stream that cattle used as a drinking trough, pushing mud and sediment into the water, is now bubbling through his bush with stones on the bottom.
“This is amazing, we were out here about three months ago, you know we’ve owned the farm a few years, coming back late at night with the kids with the head torch on and looking and there were freshwater crayfish in the stream and I didn’t even know.
“It’s amazing how quickly nature bounces back when you give it a helping hand.”
Adam’s helping hand extends to predator control because as he quickly realised when he planted his first tree at 20 years old, the birds, trees and pests all inter-relate.
There’s a network of about 30 AT220 self-setting possum and rat traps in his 14-hectare covenant bush area.
He calls the traps his “employees of the month.”
His human employees also help with predator control work in the region once a month, and Adam remains committed to Predator Free Cambridge, a group he and a friend set up years ago.
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All this work saw him as a finalist in the Zanda McDonald award earlier this year. It’s an award recognising young people working in the primary sector in Australia and New Zealand and it helps future career development.
READ MORE VIA RNZ