On the right track

Meet the peo­ple ded­i­cated to chang­ing our food land­scape.

Good - - FUTURE FOOD - Words Lindy Davis

Lin­coln Univer­sity

A new Diploma in Or­ganic Agri-Food Pro­duc­tion is be­ing of­fered through a part­ner­ship with Christchurch’s Lin­coln Univer­sity and the Bi­o­log­i­cal Hus­bandry Unit (BHU).

The one-year full time pro­gramme, largely fo­cused on the the­ory and prac­tice of or­gan­ics, will com­mence in July. The course will cover small busi­ness man­age­ment, plant and an­i­mal health, tra­di­tional and cul­tural food grow­ing tech­niques and con­tem­po­rary Māori en­ter­prises with a fo­cus on small scale and ur­ban food pro­duc­tion. The BHU Or­gan­ics Trust, es­tab­lished in 2001, brought to­gether like-minded spe­cial­ists from Lin­coln Univer­sity and the NZ Or­ganic Move­ment. BHU man­ager Bill Martin says peo­ple are tak­ing an ac­tive in­ter­est in the food sup­ply chain and as a re­sult there is in­creased de­mand for smaller scale or­ganic pro­duc­tion to sup­ply farm­ers’ mar­kets, cafés and restau­rants. “There are nu­mer­ous so­cial en­ter­prises pop­ping up across the coun­try that are in­volved in food pro­duc­tion. I be­lieve this will add huge value to so­ci­ety,” says Martin. Cul­ti­vate Christchurch is an ex­am­ple, creating ur­ban farms, clever com­post­ing and en­cour­ag­ing growth of ur­ban pro­duce. Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Or­gan­ics Aotearoa, Bren­dan Hoare wel­comes the di­rec­tion Lin­coln Univer­sity is tak­ing, main­tain­ing or­ganic pro­duc­tion is the fastest grow­ing food in­dus­try glob­ally. BHU is ded­i­cated to the sci­ence of per­ma­nent and wholesys­tem agri­cul­ture and hor­ti­cul­ture. Its cam­pus fa­cil­i­ties in­clude an Or­ganic Train­ing Col­lege fo­cus­ing on crops, live­stock and soil man­age­ment and a Fu­ture Farm­ing Cen­tre, with a 10-hectare hor­ti­cul­tural farm lo­cated at Lin­coln Univer­sity. Stu­dents are ac­tively in­volved in the process of grow­ing or­ganic fruit and veg­etable crops, and en­cour­aged to fa­cil­i­tate busi­ness re­la­tion­ships at the lo­cal mar­kets. BHU and Lin­coln’s BioPro­tec­tion Re­search Cen­tre have also teamed up with Kings Seeds to pro­duce a ‘How does your gar­den grow’ kit, an­swer­ing com­mon ques­tions about soil regulation and in­clud­ing tech­niques for at­tract­ing bees and la­dy­birds to gar­den crops. Kits are avail­able to pur­chase on­line through BHU. lin­coln.ac.nz/oafp

Juno Gin

It was quite sim­ply a nose for ad­ven­ture, and a love of gin, that cap­tured the hearts of Juno Gin founders Dave and Jo James. “We had a life­time of ex­pe­ri­ence we could bring to a busi­ness and we re­ally en­joy the concept of man­u­fac­tur­ing some­thing that’s uniquely ours.”

The gin busi­ness is a long way from Jo’s back­ground in Public Health, re­view­ing gov­ern­ment strat­egy and pol­icy to im­prove ac­cess to pri­mary health care. Dave pre­vi­ously worked in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor de­vel­op­ing pro­grammes to im­prove sus­tain­abil­ity and re­duce green­house gas emis­sions.

His role as Juno’s mas­ter dis­tiller gives him an op­por­tu­nity to be cre­ative with the dis­till­ing process. He is par­tic­u­larly proud of their cop­per still, which min­imises waste pro­duc­tion and re­cy­cles by-prod­ucts.

Other than it be­ing a stand-out on the shelf, the jet black pre­sen­ta­tion bot­tle was spe­cially de­signed to re­duce light strike that can de­crease the vi­brancy and fresh­ness of the aro­mat­ics ex­tracted from the botan­i­cals.

The pair are ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity to work with Massey Univer­sity and Lin­coln Univer­sity on a trial project to grow ju­niper trees lo­cally. Ju­niper berries, which form the cones of the tree, are cur­rently sourced from the North­ern Hemi­sphere.

“The project will cre­ate an open­ing for the South­ern Hemi­sphere to be­come a ju­niper ter­roir,” says Dave.

The ma­jor­ity of Juno’s botan­i­cals are grown in New Zealand and in­clude co­rian­der seed from the Wairarapa, or­ris root and cit­rus from Hawke’s Bay, and an­gel­ica root, kaf­fir lime leaves and manuka from Taranaki.

There are also plans for a cit­rus or­chard with weird and won­der­ful species that will be­come part of the Juno sea­sonal gin se­lec­tion. The pure moun­tain wa­ter con­tent comes from Mount Taranaki and plays a vi­tal part in the end flavour and longevity of the prod­uct.

Juno is to re­lease a new sea­sonal gin ev­ery three months, us­ing what­ever is fresh and in sea­son. The au­tumn 2018 flavour uses black­ber­ries from the Uruti Val­ley and thyme from the James’ pri­vate gar­den. juno­gin.co.nz

Chan­tal Or­gan­ics

From hum­ble be­gin­nings 40 years ago in Hawke’s Bay, a small group of peo­ple shared a vi­sion to pro­vide healthy food for their fam­i­lies. They formed a co-operative, buy­ing whole­foods and sell­ing to their lo­cal mar­ket.

That same fam­ily busi­ness has de­vel­oped into a na­tion­wide brand that health-con­scious con­sumers trust. Named af­ter the daugh­ter of one of the orig­i­nal fam­i­lies, Chan­tal Or­gan­ics opened its first or­ganic food store in Napier in 1983. When the other fam­i­lies in­volved in the busi­ness moved on, Pe­ter and Mau­reen Alexan­der took over the shop, stock­ing fresh and dry goods. One af­ter­noon Pe­ter found him­self with too many car­rots and thought he’d con­tact a few stores to see if any­one was in­ter­ested. Be­fore long, the com­pany was sell­ing or­ganic prod­ucts to var­i­ous re­tail­ers across the coun­try.

This marked the be­gin­ning of their whole­sale op­er­a­tion, which ex­panded to a size that re­quired open­ing a ware­house. Pe­ter’s nephew, David Alexan­der, Chan­tal Or­gan­ics gen­eral man­ager, says the fam­ily back­ground in farm­ing gave them some valu­able in­sight. They were in­creas­ingly con­cerned that some of the meth­ods of in­ten­sive agri­cul­ture were start­ing to have neg­a­tive ef­fects. Their phi­los­o­phy was in tune with the rapidly grow­ing health and well­ness move­ment and the sub­se­quent whole foods rev­o­lu­tion in Cal­i­for­nia. “It started with a firm be­lief in na­ture and co-op­er­a­tion with oth­ers. It re­ally stems from ‘Fam­i­lies for fam­i­lies’ and mak­ing or­gan­ics as ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able as we pos­si­bly could.” The com­pany avoids wastage, sourc­ing or­ganic and nat­u­ral prod­ucts that don’t have a huge over­head com­po­nent. Chan­tal’s farm­ers and grow­ers are or­gan­i­cally cer­ti­fied by Asure-Qual­ity, BioGro and Or­gan­icFar­mNZ. The process can take up to three years and re­quires a com­pre­hen­sive man­age­ment plan and reg­u­lar au­dit to main­tain cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. The range in­cludes nut but­ters, canned beans, whole­meal flour and rice, sauces, spices, muesli, co­conut milk and dried fruit. “One of the best things con­sumers can do is buy or­ganic prod­ucts and get in the habit of re-us­ing their bags as much as pos­si­ble to avoid plas­tic,” says David. chan­talor­gan­ics.co.nz

Matakana Su­per­Foods

De­spite be­ing based in the lit­tle North Is­land vil­lage of Matakana, Dr Kevin Glu­cina and his com­pany Matakana Su­per­Foods have been world lead­ers in su­per­foods and nu­tri­tional ex­per­tise.

It was in the early ‘90s on a trip to the Wu­dang Moun­tains in cen­tral China – the birth place of Chi­nese medicine, yin yang the­ory and Chi­nese herbal­ism – where Dr Kevin Glu­cina’s eyes were first opened to the concept of a su­per­food. There, with the good for­tune of be­ing able to fol­low mas­ter Chi­nese herbal­ists he first saw goji berries and “reishi mush­rooms grow­ing on bits of wood up in the moun­tains”. It was af­ter this that Dr Glu­cina started to ex­per­i­ment with su­per nu­tri­ents in food at his holis­tic health prac­tice in Bris­bane, be­fore mov­ing back to New Zealand in 2000. Then in 2009, he started Matakana Su­per­Foods, which be­came one of the first five su­per­food com­pa­nies in the world. A world leader in the re­search and mar­ket­ing of new foods from New Zealand and around the globe, Matakana Su­per­Foods sell more than 70 lines of su­per­food prod­ucts to­day, which con­tain unique qual­i­ties and su­per-nu­tri­ents to sup­port health and well­be­ing. The com­pany was among the first in the world to in­tro­duce the likes of maqui, goji and acai berries to mar­ket, as well as chia seeds, co­conut su­gar and su­per­green pow­ders.

Health and well­be­ing has al­ways been a pri­or­ity for Dr Glu­cina, hav­ing been in the holis­tic health and nu­tri­tion in­dus­try for more than 30 years. Dr Glu­cina and his wife, Christina, be­gan fol­low­ing an ad­di­tive-free, chem­i­cal-free, whole­food diet and lifestyle as early as the 1980s, de­spite that be­ing far from trendy in those days.

To­day Matakana Su­per­Foods is mov­ing ahead with the estab­lish­ment of a large, eco-friendly, cer­ti­fied or­ganic, so­lar-pow­ered ware­house and of­fices and a range of new in­no­va­tions and crops to sat­isfy the need for unique in­gre­di­ents. These new de­vel­op­ments are due to be com­pleted this year. matakana­su­per­foods.com

“One of the best things con­sumers can do is buy or­ganic prod­ucts and get in the habit of re-us­ing their bags to avoid plas­tic.” David Alexan­der, Chan­tal Or­gan­ics

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