About Sunset Free Range Farms
Gareth (Buck) and Anita Manning were born and raised in rural South Auckland and have spent their whole lives in the area. Both come from well-known and respected Franklin families and it was little surprise that they decided to buy an 18-acre farm near Waiuku after they got married.
The story of Sunset Free Range Farms begins and ends with Buck and Anita. Anyone that has met the pair would see their passion for free range farming and their dislike of factory farming. It was this view that led Buck and Anita to rescue 18 end-of-lay hens from a battery farm and take them out to their Waipipi farm in 2005. The idea was to rehabilitate the hens and get them laying again for their own egg consumption but this time strictly free-range eggs. The birds slowly started walking again and their feathers grew back and eventually they came back on the lay. Pretty soon Buck and Anita had a surplus of free range eggs and they began supplying family, friends and co-workers with their eggs and thus Sunset Free Range was born.
After a year or so, with their passion for free range farming growing, Buck and Anita decided to start farming on a more serious level. They worked with the council and neighbours to get resource consent and, while it was a long, difficult process, approval was given and they constructed a shed for the birds to sleep in and lay their eggs in. The shed was built with solar powered lighting and was able to house 1500 birds in the absolute highest standards of animal welfare.
At this point Buck and Anita established their company - Sunset Free Range - and began to sell their eggs in a commercial sense in local supermarkets and farmer’s markets.
As demand for Sunset Free Range eggs grew Buck and Anita had the opportunity to take on other egg farms to help supply their brand. By 2009 business was booming and Buck left his fulltime job at NZ Steel to work fulltime with their company. The company moved into a pack house in the heart of Pukekohe.
By 2013 the business was supplying both Foodstuffs and Progressive supermarkets, butcher shops, grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, dairies and fruit and vegetable stores as well as exporting to Asia.
Noted local vet Doctor Matt “The Free Ranger” Avery, agreed to check all of Sunset Free Range’s farms and birds to make sure they are kept up to the highest standards of animal welfare. Sunset Free Range is the only egg company in New Zealand to have a qualified vet monitoring their practices.
At the end of 2013 Sunset Free Range opened a small shop at their Pukekohe pack house selling other products such as sauces, jams, spices, ginger beer, honey, arts and crafts as well as a huge range of different types or free range eggs.
The year 2014 promises to be a big one for Sunset Free Range as they begin life with a fresh new design (more details will follow in the coming weeks about that) while the shop will continue to grow. Plans are well underway for Sunset Free Range to develop additional egg-based products while they also plan to export into other markets throughout Asia and beyond.