Glenthorne Station: The ecological haven where we source our merino

Glenthorne Station: The ecological haven where we source our merino

Just over an hour from our Christchurch HQ is Glenthorne Station, a 62,000-acre sheep and cattle station nestled on the shores of Lake Coleridge. Glenthorne, managed by Chris and Jo Johns, has been a highly valued supply chain partner for Untouched World, and the source of 90% of the merino wool we use in our collections.

Glenthorne’s verdant, sprawling landscape is a mixture of high-country mountain, developed foothills, and intensive flats, and it’s home to some 7,000 merino sheep who roam freely across the land. The station was settled in 1859 and Chris and Jo respect the history of the land, not just as a story but in a very practical way, through regenerative farming. “It’s all part of preserving the history and the environment that we live in,” says Jo.

That preservation work takes many forms, such as planting seedlings to enhance the regeneration of native plants, and the establishment of a 70% legume pasture which is great for the sheep because it’s rich in digestible protein, calcium, and minerals for grazing, and great for the future of the land because it can increase soil fertility.

As a ZQRX accredited farm, which means they farm according to a comprehensive regenerative agriculture index, Glenthorne goes beyond sustainability and aims to actually improve the natural environment. “Being ZQRX certified and going through the audit process gives us security and sets standards around all facets of what we do at Glenthorne,” says Chris.

“Regenerative farming is a concept we wholeheartedly embrace,” he continues. “The biggest asset on Glenthorne is our soil, so if we can look after that everything follows.”

It’s this progressive and ecologically-minded outlook that drew us to Glenthorne. Their values are deeply aligned with ours at Untouched World - after all our brand grew from a desire to make a positive impact in the world, and that’s exactly what Glenthorne is striving for with their regenerative practices.

Much of the focus around regenerative farming focuses on the land, and understandably so because many of the driving factors behind it stem from the soil and the necessity to protect and improve it. But regenerative farming is a holistic practice and ZQRX specifies that its index “helps farmers work with nature to continuously improve human, animal and environmental outcomes.” Working with nature and enhancing the soil is vital work but it will only thrive when farmers understand, as ZQRX puts it, “the complex interactions between their livestock, soils, climate, ecology, and community.”

Everything is connected, and everything thrives together, so we can trust that just as Chris and Jo are stewards of the land, they are responsible and dedicated caretakers of their flock. “Here at Glenthorne, the wool we produce is a huge part of what we do. We’re very proud of what we produce, and we put a lot of effort and a lot of care into its production. Everything from how the sheep are fed through to our shearing intervals and health management systems are all geared around how best to produce the highest quality merino fibre we can,” says Chris.

The quality of that merino shines through in our garments, and you’ll find that every single piece in our Mountainsilk™, Total Easy Care Merino, and CoolTree™ collections is made solely from merino sourced from Glenthorne.

We have always sought out the best possible fibre available to us. When Untouched World began life in 1995 under parent company Snowy Peak Limited, we used certified organic wool, and as standards evolved, so did our sourcing. For instance, when ZQ became a gold standard in ethical wool production we rolled ZQ fibres into our collections. We also actively chased the New Zealand Merino company to be able to source regeneratively farmed merino, so when ZQRX built on ZQ to incorporate regenerative farming, we embraced that too.

Similarly, regenerative farming is something that is always evolving. It requires patience as many of the positive outcomes are intergenerational rather than quick wins. Each success will inform the next and the next, and as new knowledge emerges practices will adapt. We know that this kind of long view doesn’t suit all brands in an industry that prioritises the here and now, but an eye on the future is exactly what we want from our partners, and that’s what we get with Glenthorne. It’s a privilege to have such a robust and responsible supply chain partner in such close proximity to where we produce our clothes, bolstering our commitment to local manufacturing and enabling us to further support our community here in New Zealand.

“Working with a brand partner such as Untouched World who shares a lot in common with Glenthorne around values of the environment and sustainability, and looking after young people makes for a very easy relationship and hopefully a very long lived one,” says Chris. We couldn’t agree more.

Glenthorne in numbers

  • Settled in 1859
  • Over 62,000 acres
  • 7,000 merino ewes
  • Located 110 km from Christchurch
  • The source of 90% of Untouched World merino