Southern road trip
Hort NZ talks to growers and regional and district councils between Dunedin and Christchurch.
The Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) team of Angela Halliday, Astra Foster and Rachel McClung visited South Island growers at the end of last year, with communications manager Josie Vidal along for the road trip from Dunedin to Christchurch. The group met with the Otago Regional Council and Timaru District Council as well as growers Dale and Hannah Jordan, Rebecca Turley, Robin Oakley, and Lance, Makereta and Lincoln Roper.
Dale and Hannah Jordon, of Saddleview Greens in Mosgiel, near Dunedin, have been growing lettuce, kale and spinach hydroponically for five years. With 17 hothouses on their 2.5 hectare property, the greens they produce are sold fresh in the lower half of the South Island. They are interested in being as sustainable as they can be and heating comes from recycled waste oil which burns clean. Rebecca Turley recently joined the family business, Turley Farms in Temuka, near Timaru, having previously been at Rabobank. She has been on the Horticulture New Zealand Leadership Programme and an intern director at MG Marketing and comes from a line of vegetable growers. Turley Farms is a large scale grain, seed and vegetable business, started in 1952 by Rebecca’s grandparents Margaret and Alan Turley and now run by her parents Margaret and Murray Turley. The vegetables they grow are mainly potatoes and onions, with 95% of the onions exported.
There are five generations of growers in Robin Oakely’s family and Robin has been growing commercially since he was 15 years old. Oakley’s Premium Fresh Vegetables, based in Southbridge, near Christchurch grow potatoes, broccoli, pumpkin, peas and beetroot, with their fresh brands sold throughout the South Island and now in the North Island. Robin holds a number of industry leadership roles and is on the board for United Fresh New Zealand, which operates the 5 + a day programme and runs fruit in schools.
Lance and Makereta Roper specialise in peeled red onions from their property at Lincoln, near Christchurch, producing up to 800 tonnes a year, as well as growing pumpkins, peas and beans. One of their sons, Lincoln, who is headed to Lincoln University this year to study agriculture, has been a finalist in the Young Vegetable Grower of the Year competition and has been actively helping his parents on the farm since the age of seven. Just 16 at the time, Lincoln was the youngest ever to compete in the Young Vegetable Grower competition, and while that made him ineligible to compete for the national Young Grower of the Year title – entrants must be at least 18 years
of age – he was still keen to participate for the experience. Lincoln has been our most popular posting on our Instagram @GrowersofNZ.
Hort NZ loves visiting growers and finding out about their businesses, as well as learning new things.
New-York based urban farming expert Henry GordonSmith visited Horticulture New Zealand in early December 2017 and talked about how urban farming might fit into the New Zealand food production system. Innovations such as growing seedlings vertically to free up land for the next stage of growth could become options as growing land continues to be squeezed by houses. Henry spoke at a Food and Fibre Innovation Conference in Wellington about successful, as well as not so successful, high-tech approaches to creating sustainable food in cities. He has a popular blog, Agritecture.com, if you want to find out more.
Horticulture New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries are making steady progress on the recognition of the GAP schemes for Food Act verification, which will mean that meeting Food Act requirements will be seamless for GAP approved growers. MPI has recently acknowledged that the NZGAP Scheme, checklist and auditors meet the Food Act requirements under National Programme level 1 and it is looking at the acceptance of other GAP schemes and checklists used by growers (e.g. GLOBALG.A.P.). This will mean that your next GAP audit will also count as a Food Act audit, reducing compliance costs for growers.
In January, Horticulture New Zealand used a media release to point out that better thinking needs to go into long-term solutions for the weather variations that are increasingly bringing storms and drought that impact the food chain. Dams get a bad rap from those who don’t seem to understand the wider community benefits, including sustainable water supply for urban dwellers, so Julian Raine and Mike Chapman spoke to media about the need to plan ahead for drought by storing water when it is plentiful, including via dams. There is a lot of education about water – where it comes from and how it is replenished, or not, as the case may be - required across all levels of government and the public. This magazine covers the issue on pages 2-3; 12-28; 30-31.
In December, Hort NZ hosted a grower meeting in Levin to discuss how the vegetable industry in Horowhenua can provide information to council and the community to prove that they are meeting Good Management Practice and reducing their environmental footprint, in the absence of resource consents.
In January, Hort NZ met with growers in Pukekohe on the Waikato Regional Council - Plan Change 1: Healthy Rivers.
The meeting was to explain, and get feedback on, key aspects of Hort NZ’s submission.
Hort NZ has submitted on Waipa District Plan Changes 5, 6, and 7. Key matters addressed include:
• Inadequate consideration of the economic and social impacts of the loss of high class soil to urban development
• Land supply – especially high class soil
• Access to infrastructure and water
• Reverse sensitivity
• Consultation on future structure plans and uplifting of deferred zones. The submission is on the Hort NZ website.
A brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) find in imported machinery was detected and reported before any real damage could be done. The insects were found contained in the control panel of a concrete mixer from Italy, a country that has seen increasing populations of BMSB in recent years. The Ministry for Primary Industries sealed the machinery in plastic and refumigated it.
Subsequently, in December, the Ministry for Primary Industries introduced new treatment requirements that mean that all sea containers from Italy now need to be treated either offshore (in Italy) or on arrival in New Zealand. The new requirements were implemented on December 23, 2017 and will remain in place until the end of February 2018.
Hort NZ biosecurity representatives attended the December Kiwifruit Vine Health facilitated KiwiNet workshop. KiwiNet is a network of people from across the kiwifruit industry, who champion biosecurity readiness and co-ordinate the deployment of industry resources into biosecurity responses. The workshop focused on increasing biosecurity best practice, and the progress made over the past six months on kiwifruit industry threat readiness. Attendees also took part in an exercise to help formulate the early draft of a
Pictured, from left: Dale and Hannah Jordan at Saddleview Greens
Rebecca Turley at Turley Farms in Temuka Robin Oakley on a day of potato planting at Oakley’s Premium Fresh Vegetables
Red onion growers Lance and Lincoln Roper at Roper and Son