Springtime sees the arrival of thyme-covered slopes, with mountain daisies and wildflowers finding their way up through the snow. In Summer, alpine flowers blossom over the mountain ranges and herbs, daisies and grasses appear in the valleys and hills. All this from the hot, dry, Continental style climate that is Central Otago.
Further from the sea than any other part of our country, this harsh climate with its extreme daily temperature variation and high sunshine hours is renowned for the production of quality summerfruit – succulent apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines and plums. “Cool nights followed by temperatures that have been up to 30C and higher, produce high quality fruit with good sugars, great flavour and good keeping quality ”, says Stephen Jeffery of Fairview Orchard in Coal Creek near Roxburgh. “We receive such positive feedback from customers about the flavour and the ripeness of the apricots”.
Fairview Orchard provides jobs for many locals and during harvest time they supplement their numbers with casual pickers – most commonly they are backpackers travelling from Eastern European countries such as Germany and the Czech Republic. Many of them stay in the self-sufficient accommodation provided at Fairview, where their proximity to the orchards makes getting to work on time a walk in the park.
Stephen’s wife Rowena manages the Orchard’s roadside shop which is open daily between November – April so that locals and visitors passing by can purchase their fruit at its absolute best, shortly after it has been picked.
The team at Fairview works closely with the MAF’s Summerfruit NZ Compliance Programme and the orchard is an approved site. The aim of the programme is to control insect pests while using the least amount of insecticides and they aim to produce summer fruit with almost nil residues. The harsh Central Otago climate also helps to control many of the pests and diseases.
All fruit produced at Fairview meets the MAF’s very high export standards. All fruit supplied to Anathoth Farm meets the same stringent standards and reaches us in the best very condition. Stephen`s premium apricots are used to make Anathoth Farm Apricot Jam and Apricot Chutney.
Perrys Berrys Ltd is a second generation strawberry farm run by Francie Perry and her daughter Katie and son-in-law Grant. Their gardens are 5 minutes from Auckland Airport on a 30 hectare farm. Francie started growing strawberries over 30 years ago and her commitment to quality and innovation has resulted in Perrys Berrys being the only strawberry grower that actually grows its own plants. They are also the only plant growers with a high elevation site, located in Ohakune.
At Perrys Berrys new strawberry varieties are continually being trialled as they seek the best possible fruit - for their flavour, size, firmness and colour.
With four sites and a year round operation involving fresh produce, processing and exporting, they quickly recognised the absolute importance of quality control and for this reason custom built a new packhouse 5 years ago. At this site they have coolstores, a freezer, blast freezers, and a large filtration plant to enable them to produce the highest quality product.
Each year the strawberries from their gardens and packhouse in Auckland are supplied to supermarkets, export markets and manufacturers. Perrys Berrys also works with other leading growers to process their fruit ready for manufacture.
With Francie’s three granddaughters already spending much time on the farm, we look forward to the third generation continuing the family tradition.