'It was just innovate or die': Fairlight Foundation Director pioneers rural innovation

'It was just innovate or die': Fairlight Foundation Director pioneers rural innovation

2000ha of hill country, 500ha of arable land and a significant Douglas Fir forest located in northern Southland is where many special call home. A select few people also call it their office. Fairlight Foundation Executive Director Laura Koot is one of them and was recently recognised for her hard work and contribution at the NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards, being awarded the Rural Women Innovation Award.

She told REX host Dom George that the process of applying for the award allowed her to reflect on her achievements and innovations, especially during challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"You know, after COVID it was all a bit of a blur and I really just did what I had to survive," she said.

"I didn't see it as innovation and I didn't see what I was doing as anything special. It was just innovation or die, basically." 

Coming towards the end of 2023, Koot touched on the number of farming interns who are preparing for the new year. They are not only refining their farming skills but also developing their professional capabilities through workshops on farm accounts, stock reconciliation rules, and investment. Koot believes that these comprehensive and well-rounded training programs help to prepare the interns for the real world. 

"They are more capable than what they realise and it won't be until they actually get out there in a new environment that they understand just how much they've developed in the year." 

Fairlight's annual stag sale is a major event at the station and is a great opportunity to showcase the impressive genetics of the deer at Fairlight.

"It's really, really exciting because you know we're really passionate about our deer at Fairlight. 

"It's a big part of the foundation training program and it's awesome to see the farmers just come on-site, check out what we've got and have a wine and beer at the end of it." 

Koot and George also touched on the mental health side of rural life and farming and the importance of looking after those around you.

Listen to the full chat between Laura Koot and Dominic George above.

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