On the right track
Meet the people dedicated to changing our food landscape.
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
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
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
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