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Episode 12: Free Range

Originally screened on May 9 at 7pm on TV ONE.

When Bert and Rebecca Borger did office jobs in Wellington, they dreamed about a new life in the country.

Bert was a policy maker for DOC and rural fire prevention. His wife Rebecca also worked at DOC and later trained as a schoolteacher. Neither had a clue about farming.

"Apart from majoring in agricultural business at Massey University, I didn't know what it took to be a farmer and how many hours you had to work," Rebecca says.

The couple fell in love with a picturesque sheep and cattle farm in the hills above Paparoa on Northland's Kaipara Harbour - and they moved from their secure city jobs just after their first child, James, was born.

Rebecca's parents helped finance the project and together they turned the land into one of New Zealand's biggest organic free-range egg farms.

Today the Borgers have 9000 chickens, laying around 2.5 million eggs a year.

Despite some early problems, they've stuck to their principles of producing healthy free-range eggs without resorting to beak trimming, antibiotics or chemicals.

Bert says, "If you get the ethics on your farm right, the animals are going to be looked after.  I want to sleep well at night and I can do that here."

The business has been so successful that the Borgers are now raising free-range Tamworth pigs as well. They roam in the bush and paddocks during the day and are fed a diet that includes kumara and reject eggs.

Bert and Rebecca now have three children. Rebecca home schools them, using farm activities like collecting eggs as learning opportunities.

The home schooling is all part of their wish for a more self-sufficient rural lifestyle. "Parent teacher interviews are done over a glass of wine at the end of the day," Rebecca says.

Bert says six years of hard work is now paying off.

"We've put everything into this farm - physically, emotionally and financially.  We sold up everything to go farming, but we've done it right and I can feel proud of that."

Other sites to view:

More on the Borgers' farm
Info on Frenzs free range eggs (PDF)
- Info on the Borgers' free range pork