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From farm to market: Redefining wool supply

by | May 1, 2024

Proud of their farming heritage and immensely passionate about what they do, a group of Banks Peninsula wool growers have taken complete ownership of their product – from farm to market. Under the brand Banks Peninsula Farms, they supply the strong wool required for Terra Lana insulation products.

‘In 2009 we formed Banks Peninsula Wool Growers Ltd with a common goal,’ says Chairman Chris Chamberlain, ‘to grow the value of Banks Peninsula strong wool, strengthen our farming community and uphold sustainable farming practices.’

For Terra Lana, Banks Peninsula Farms’ traceability and transparency represent product stewardship of the highest standard, and with just an hour and a half drive from farm to factory, their wool couldn’t be more locally sourced or sustainable.

Industry collaborations

The relationship between Terra Lana and Banks Peninsula Farms began when the two were brought together by a local property developer wishing to use wool insulation to reduce his carbon footprint.

‘We met with Terra Lana, and really liked what they were doing in wool innovation,’ says Chris. ‘They wanted to buy local to get a very tight supply chain with a low carbon footprint, and that’s what started us off as a supplier – we felt that we could grow alongside them.’

Representing some 40 farms, one of Banks Peninsula Wool Growers’ aims was to create a close connection between farms and the end users of the product.

‘Most wool growers do not have a connection to where their wool goes. Working with Terra Lana got us thinking about what the manufacturers’ requirements were. We could then provide wool to the specification they give us, and as growers we’d know exactly where it is going. We love the fact that we produce locally and it goes into local homes.’

Sheep shearing on Banks Peninsula Farm for Terra Lana Wool insulation and weed matting

Keeping farms sustainable and productive

The Banks Peninsula Farms story is unique in many ways, from the natural landscape that sustains the growth of high-quality wool to the natural collaboration of growers that supports the groups’ interests and endeavours.

‘These are multi-generational farming families using truly regenerative all-grass farming methods that touch the land lightly. Employing sustainable farming practices will ensure that Banks Peninsula is kept beautiful and productive for generations to come.’

Running predominately Romney sheep that produce a superior-quality strong wool enables Banks Peninsula Farms to sell top-end fleece wool for export, while supplying Terra Lana with their strong-grade specified wools.

Strong wool is an excellent fibre for insulation, bringing the advantages of its hygroscopic (moisture-wicking) properties to wrap buildings in effectively large wool blankets to keep the warmth in during winter and insulate from the heat in summer.

‘Wool is a 100% natural product that is moisture resistant,’ says Chris. ‘It can conserve heat, yet it keeps you cool as well. It’s an incredible product – and it’s New Zealand grown.’

Sheep shearing on Banks Peninsula Farm for Terra Lana Wool insulation and weed matting

Bringing back demand for a primary NZ product

With synthetic fibres replacing wool in many applications, initiatives like this are working to rejuvenate the industry – finding new ways to use wool in local applications to increase the demand and value of wool as a resource. In 2023, Terra Lana launched DagMat landscaping textiles, literally repurposing sheep dags. Acres of the product are now being laid on council roading and civil projects around the country.

Traceability and transparency add competitive advantage in the eyes of local and overseas markets, and give stakeholders confidence in the ethical, local source of their wool.

For Chris and Banks Peninsula Farms, ‘the wool industry had been swamped by the synthetic industry in the last few generations. We need consumers and specifiers to see that New Zealand-grown wool for carpet and insulation is the better option. Terra Lana has been influential in getting the products into the hands of architects, which gives us hope and confidence that wool is turning a corner in this industry.’

Sheep on Banks Peninsula Farm for Terra Lana Wool insulation and weed matting

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Article credits

Writer: Folio

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