By Linda Clarke
Silver Fern Farms has confirmed its mothballed Fairton plant and surrounding land is to be sold.
Real estate signs have been erected on State Highway 1 near the plant and Silver Fern Farms’ communication manager Justin Courtney said expressions of interest from buyers were about to be sought.
Colliers is selling the plant on behalf of the meat processing company. More information about the sale is expected to be released next week.
The block is being advertised as a 485ha land area, as an industrial/rural holding.
Mr Courtney said items of a historical nature from the plant, which is more than 100 years old, were being preserved. The Ashburton District Council had been approached regarding interest in items for the Ashburton Museum.
“We support the local community preserving local pieces of importance.”
Parts of the engineering plant had significant history. Sheep farming was the cornerstone of the Canterbury economy following settlement in the early 1850s and the Fairton plant, or Fairfield Freezing Works as it was called when owned by the Canterbury Frozen Meat company, played an important part in processing sheep meat for Britain.
The main part of the plant closed in 2017, with the loss of 370 jobs; the plant’s pelthouse closed last year, with the loss of another 44 jobs. A decline in regional sheep numbers led to the closure and the company has consolidated processing at Pareora.
A few staff are still on site at Fairton, involved in the operation of its farmland.