Grow­ing is their busi­ness

Havelock North Village Press - - News -

Trude Weekes and Jo Reid bought Planter’s Nurs­ery in July 2014. The nurs­ery will be clos­ing its re­tail doors to the pub­lic on Au­gust 31, but will be out the back in full swing grow­ing com­mer­cially and whole­sale. Re­porter Brenda Vow­den caught up with Jo and found out more. ■ Tell me about your back­ground.

I worked in the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try all my life — hav­ing spent 20 years at Waimea Nurs­eries, in Nel­son lat­terly as field man­ager and Trude has a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence in of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tion. I re­lo­cated to Have­lock North and worked in the nurs­ery in­dus­try un­til be­com­ing the head gar­dener at Sum­mer­set in the Vines for four years. While there I bought seedlings from Planters and when the nurs­ery came up for sale, we jumped at it.

■ How has Planters Nurs­ery’s vi­sion changed?

The de­mand for com­mer­cial and whole­sale veg­eta­bles has in­creased dramatically in the past four years, and so with this the vi­sion has changed to fo­cus on this area. The move away from re­tail is a nat­u­ral oc­cur­rence with the in­crease in com­mer­cial/whole­sale sales. It is im­por­tant for qual­ity in this in­dus­try and we sim­ply can­not main­tain all our time on all ar­eas. Some­thing had to give.

■ Tell me about your most pop­u­lar sellers and who you sell to.

Our veg­eta­bles have been our forte, sell­ing to com­mer­cial mar­ket gar­den­ers, along with community gar­dens, re­tail out­lets and bou­tique whole­salers. We also prop­a­gate flower seedlings for florists, wed­dings, land­scap­ers, restau­rants. Planters Nurs­ery is also cur­rently the sup­plier for the coun­cil bas­kets in Hast­ings, Flaxmere and Ma­hora.

■ Why has Planters been so suc­cess­ful?

We are pas­sion­ate and grow to the con­di­tions. Our veg­eta­bles have been a great suc­cess as we sup­ply all our re­tail/whole­sale cus­tomers with com­mer­cial lines of seedlings, sow­ing to sea­sonal va­ri­eties that thrive well in Hawke’s Bay con­di­tions. Our clien­tele over the past four years have var­ied with prod­uct and quan­ti­ties, va­ri­ety is the spice of life, and we sure get that here.

■ Will you stick with this new busi­ness model or are more changes ahead?

Our new model will be com­mer­cially fo­cused for mar­ket gar­den­ers, along with a strong fo­cus on whole­salers. Planters will still be pro­duc­ing vege and flower pun­nets but these will be sold off-site at other out­lets. We will be stick­ing to this new model — we couldn’t con­tinue spread­ing our fo­cus. This would have been to the detri­ment of ei­ther re­tail or com­mer­cial. An­other fo­cus on the whole­sale side is to move more ex­ten­sively into or­ganic pro­duc­tion. Cur­rently a third of our com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion is or­ganic.

■ What has been the trick­i­est part of de­cid­ing to ditch the re­tail side of the op­er­a­tion?

The ut­most worst part of this de­ci­sion is let­ting our cus­tomers down. We are very apolo­getic that we won’t have the shop open for them. It wasn’t a de­ci­sion taken lightly but in gen­eral our cus­tomers have been very un­der­stand­ing. Our doors will al­ways be open for advice and/or or­ders, be it the back door.

■ Why do you love work­ing at/own­ing Planters?

We sim­ply love this life­style for the grat­i­fi­ca­tion we get from watch­ing our seeds turn into plants, tak­ing the pres­sure off grow­ers (com­mer­cial or home gar­den­ers) be­cause that’s what we do. Shar­ing our plant knowl­edge and chat­ting about grow­ing is a favourite pas­time, be it with cus­tomers, grow­ers or stu­dents in the in­dus­try. Yes we have chal­lenges, but ev­ery day I get to walk through the houses, talk to the plants and have an im­mense sense of pride know­ing my team and I pro­duced these.

■ A word to cus­tomers?

Many peo­ple have com­mented that they had no idea how huge the scale of pro­duc­tion was out the back, think­ing the re­tail shop was all that was here.

The re­tail area was like the tip of the ice­berg. We cer­tainly will be avail­able to grow plants to or­der and in­vite cus­tomers to give us a call and dis­cuss re­quire­ments. Check us out on Facebook as where to buy Planters seedlings from. There will be a few out­lets in the Hawke’s Bay area. We would like to thank our cus­tomers over the past four years. We have en­joyed your com­pany and garden chats.

■ Planters Nurs­ery, 418 St Georges Road North, Have­lock North, phone 06 877 6537 or visit www.planter­snurs­

Jo Reid bought Planter’s Nurs­ery in July 2014 with co-owner Trude Weekes.

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