Gold In The Paddock We're proud to present the winners of the Outstanding Food Producers Awards.
Introducing the Giesen Paddock Champion and Supreme Champion Award winners for 2021: Homegrown Farm Fresh Meats, operated by Dion and Ali Kilmister.
Producers from Raglan to Wanaka were among the Champions in this year’s Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards, with Wairarapa’s Homegrown Farm Fresh Meats named Supreme Champion 2021.
Their mixed box of gourmet beef and lamb cuts dazzled the judges and how could it not? French lamb rack, eye fillet and beef & Lewis Road Creamery steak butter sausages were only a few of the delectable meat goods in the collection.
Homegrown Farm Fresh Meats was also crowned Giesen Paddock Champion this year too, after receiving a Gold Medal for the Mixed Box – Beef & Lamb. It’s the second time they have been named Paddock Champion, after collecting the award in in 2018. Additionally in 2021 they received a Gold Medal and a Silver for their Angus Park Dry Aged Beef Scotch Fillet and Lamb & Sage Bacon, respectively. Now, they can add ‘Supreme Champion’ to their long list of accolades.
Part of their success is thanks to the Romney-Texel-Charollais cross sheep they farm, which they chose for its meat-to-bone ratio. This breed produces a gloriously tender meat which has beautiful colour and caramelised sweetness that enhances all aspects of the lamb – which greatly impressed the Award judges. They said, “We really wanted to tuck in! Very tender meat – all the way through…pure meat flavours of both the beef and lamb are outstanding.”
Dion and Ali have three lower North Island farms spread over 250km to decrease climate risk. They have family managing the properties which is a win-win as farm staff can be hard to find. After setting up Homegrown Butcher, Deli and Pantry in Masterton in late 2019, Dion is back on the farm in Pahiatua most of the time doing what he loves, finishing off cattle and sheep.
Between managing the farms and running their Masterton store, life is incredibly busy for the pair, and they love it! Donning their aprons on a Saturday morning to meet food loving customers and showcase their meat is a weekly highlight. But as with any busy life there are tough moments. Having lost nine of his family over four years, Dion sought help from the Rural Support Trust after the Covid lockdown made the grief all too real for him. Now, the pair are keen supporters of the service which helps look after the mental wellness of the farming community.
Dion and Ali are conscious about producing minimal waste – with it all going to either farm dog tucker or bones sold for bone broth. Caring for their environment is also key. “We know we’re only caretakers of the land”, says Ali. “We don’t blanket treat animals with chemicals and only treat if there is a reason.”
The couple believe in planning – as well as establishing a successful business over recent years they’ve also achieved some other life goals. They married in a romantic beach wedding in Rarotonga in 2018 and they’ve bought a caravan to take well-deserved time off now and then with their family. Their next goal is business related; they want to find more local farmland for extra summer grazing.
Ali says their goal is for Kiwis to eat what the farmer eats and how the farmer eats – real nose-to-tail eating. “Our goal is to provide family, friends and your family and friends with naturally farmed, ethically raised lamb and beef.”
Visit Homegrown’s website https://homegrownbutchery.online/ to shop their award-winning range of delicious meat as well as their favourite pantry goods and get it delivered to your door. Or call in and say hi at the butchery at 437B Queen Street, Kuripuni, Masterton.