For Jesiah and Ellen Alexander, starting an organic farm on the outskirts of Cambridge is a labour of love.

Every inch of their 50ha farm is certified organic — including their house and driveway — and home to 100 cows and a handful of sheep, chickens and ducks.

The husband and wife work from dawn to dusk seven days a week, nurturing the land, taking care of their animals and selling raw milk from their front gate on Flume Rd.

Cambridge husband and wife Jesiah and Ellen Alexander are the owners of organic farm Alexander Organics, which sells organic, raw milk from Flume Rd. Photo / Bethany Rolston
Cambridge husband and wife Jesiah and Ellen Alexander are the owners of organic farm Alexander Organics, which sells organic, raw milk from Flume Rd. Photo / Bethany Rolston

But the hard-working millennials wouldn't have it any other way.

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Before starting Alexander Organics nine months ago Jesiah, 25, and Ellen, 24 had been farming together for seven years.

Both come from farming families, with Jesiah growing up in Cambridge and Ellen in Warkworth.

The couple is passionate about organic and biological farming practices.

Since taking over the land they have planted more than 1500 trees and shrubs, aiming to double that number over the next few years.

They are developing an organic orchard and plan to sell fruit alongside their organic eggs and raw milk.

Alexander Organics raw milk can be enjoyed by customers straight from a chilled self-serve dispenser. Photo / Bethany Rolston
Alexander Organics raw milk can be enjoyed by customers straight from a chilled self-serve dispenser. Photo / Bethany Rolston

Jesiah says organic farming involves much more than choosing not to use pesticides or fertilisers.

The goal is to develop a farm that is sustainable and harmonious with the environment.

"We want to work in with nature, rather than against it," Jesiah says.

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In organic farming, food is produced with environmentally conscious, natural and cruelty free farming methods to output healthy products.

Alexander Organics doesn't have bobby calves — calves are raised and sold to calf rearers — and their chickens and ducks wander freely around the property.

They don't use artificial chemicals in fertilisers and pesticides and crops are not genetically modified.

The farm does not use hormones for faster growth or productivity. Drugs like antibiotics are only used in an emergency situation with that animal then being removed from the operation.

All other health treatments such as wormers are natural or certified organic and all approved by their organic certifier prior to use.

These decisions lead to a disease and chemical-free product.

Jesiah says this might mean the farm is less profitable in the short term, and that more work is required — such as pulling weeds, rather than spraying.

But instead of seeing this as a sacrifice, the optimistic couple choose to view it as a positive.

"The more we learned about organics, the more we fell in love with the whole philosophy," Jesiah says.

"We believe we are making a good choice and could never go back to non-organic."

They believe that organic farming starts in the soil.

"With healthy soil biology, you have good pasture, with good pasture you have healthy cows and with healthy cows you have healthy, nutrient-dense milk."

The farm aims to continue adding to and improving pasture varieties.

Their long-term goal is to have a farm that is "humming" and working to its full potential, with the aim of passing it down to the next generation.

"It's the lifestyle we've chosen to commit to," Jesiah says.

"We love living organically and it gives us huge drive and encouragement to see our customers delighted with our products."

"We work long hours, but we wouldn't have it any other way. You can't beat working in nature every day."

Alexander Organics has two herds of cows — a raw milk herd and a main herd.

The raw milk herd is made up of up to 20 hand-picked cows who are tolerant of the daily milking, which takes about 40 minutes, due to the scrupulous cleaning routine needed to produce raw milk.

Each cow's teat is cleaned thoroughly, stripped, sprayed and dried before being milked.

The milk is filtered and passes through an 'ice-bank' system to be cooled down.

It can then be enjoyed by customers straight from a chilled self-serve dispenser, purchased in 500ml and 1L glass bottles.

Over the last nine months Alexander Organics has accumulated a loyal following of customers who rave about the health benefits, low-waste and nostalgia of raw, organic milk in glass bottles.

The vending machine self-sterilises after each pour and customers can bring their own bottle or buy a sterilised, reusable glass bottle.

A second vending machine sells bottles, extra bottle lids and credit sticks. There are also organic eggs for sale.

Jesiah and Ellen have complied with many food and safety requirements and their raw milk is tested three times a month at milk testing laboratories in Hamilton and Auckland.

Ellen says organic farmers are a minority in New Zealand, but hopes that is starting to change.

She credits other organic farming communities around New Zealand and the world, which they have learnt a lot from.

"We aren't doing anything new here," she says.

"We are the next generation of organic farmers, standing on the shoulders of organic farmers before us."

Alexander Organics on 133 Flume Road is open seven days a week 8am to 7pm. Contact info@alexanderorganics.co.nz or find Alexander Organics on Facebook.