This article was orginally posted on the Total Ag Solutions website in 2016.
Geoffrey Johnson is continuing on his father’s legacy on their 430 acre Gawler farm.
Recently, I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with Geoffrey Johnson on his property at Gawler, on the beautiful North West Coast of Tasmania. We sat around the kitchen table in his 1970’s home which he and his father built right on top of the hill overlooking Ulverstone and surrounds. I was overwhelmed by the incredible scenery all around me, especially the amazing ocean views.
Geoffrey’s father Denney bought the first 341 acres in 1974 after selling his 1000 acre farm at Castra. He then bought the neighbouring property which was 196 acres. He did sell 32 acres as he intended to keep things smaller. Geoffrey bought what he calls the Blackwood block during the mid 70’s which made up his now 430 acres. They also bought a 130-acre property out at North Motton which was what they called their hobby block.
At one time they also owned Leven Gold Onion Factory in Gawler, which was where they processed onions to sell worldwide.
Geoffrey bought the farm off his father in 2010, and today his focus is potatoes; which he grows for Coles, also onions, and pyrethrum. He also farms cattle, sheep, and pumpkins. In the past, he supplied Simplot and won top growers for this very well-known company. Most years Geoffrey farms around 85 acres of potatoes, although this year they only needed to farm 25 acres overall which have worked well with the poor weather conditions that we have endured around the state throughout the year. They have also farmed 100 acres of pyrethrum this year, which has been their main focus.
Growing up on the farm Geoffrey always knew that this was what he wanted to be doing with his life.
“I finished school at fifteen, and at first wanted to go to the army, but Dad convinced me to stay and work on his farm full time. I was lucky as I ended up doing ‘volunteer work’ most of those first four years.”
Geoffrey gained his love for Massey Ferguson tractors from his Dad. His Father had numerous Massey tractors during his farming years and was loyal to the core.
“Dad didn’t like telling non-Massey salesmen to where to go, so he started sending me over. Geoff, you’ve got the ability to tell them where to go, and then you smile about it, he said.”
In Geoffrey’s time on the farm, he has owned 27 Massey Ferguson Tractors, 10 of which he still owns today. The models he has owned range from his first 135, two 3095, two 362, three 154, many 6400 models, 8220, 8260, and more. He recently bought two new tractors from us, a 7485 and 7626.
“The 699 was one of my favourites, as it was such a reliable machine. It was 100 horsepower and it would handle anything I needed it to do. We are on a very steep property here, but it never challenged the 699.”
Over the years Geoffrey has built good relationships with many Total Ag staff. He has dealt with the business from when it was WS Townsends, to North West Farm Equipment, Tasmanian Farm Equipment, and now Total Ag Solutions.
“The people I have worked well with over the years have always made me want to keep my business partnership with Total Ag. It’s personal at Total Ag. You can walk into anyone’s office, sit and just have a chat. That’s what makes it so good dealing with them”.
“I deal with Tony Brooks in sales, whom I get along with very well. I have had Brett Cox in the workshop come out to fix many of my tractors over the years, and also Ricki Banfield in parts lives just over from me.”
Geoffrey tells me of this one time when he went over to visit Ricki and Ricki was going to work on his vegetable garden. Geoffrey said he would help Ricki out and work up the ground for him. So he left and came back with the 8260 with the rippers and the rotary hoe on it and cut a few strips and it was done.
After speaking with Geoffrey I can see that he has worked very hard to get where he is today, and his father Denney has been a huge influence towards the way he farms and does business. Farming is about family and it is common, and comforting, to see farms being passed down through new generations. It is lovely to see Geoffrey’s beautiful 7-year-old daughter Angie running around talking about how much she loves the Masseys. Maybe she will grow up to follow in her father’s footsteps as well.
-By Amy Dyer