Mike and Kate are new to growing tamarillos; this is their first season on their orchard near Katikati. As a fellow grower, I was so impressed by how healthy their orchard was on my first visit, and of course the incredibly tasty fruit speaks for itself!
Mike and Kate planted their first tamarillos in November 2018, starting with approximately 1,200 plants, and they aim to have about 2,300 plants in their orchard within the next couple of years. When mature, the orchard should produce around 25 tonnes of tamarillos each season! The summer of 2018/2019 was a hot and dry one, and with no irrigation in those early days, it was a tough introduction to orcharding, watering their plants by hand to help get them established! Mike and Kate are working towards organic production, rebuilding the soil (after its former life as a poultry farm) and using as few chemical inputs as possible.
As for their life outside of horticulture, Mike and Kate have a long list of achievements and community involvement. In his old life, Mike was Deputy Mayor of the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Chair of St Johns for 10 years, Chairperson of Western Bay Museum in Katikati (and still on the Board), as well as still being involved in Katikati Taiao. Kate is in real estate, and still works doing relief branch management, as well as mentoring and training in the industry. Kate just loves spending time in the community, and regularly volunteers at Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, Waipuna Hospice Op Shop, and coordinates Daffodil Day in Katikati. With 3 children and 5 grandchildren, they sure are busy, however they’re loving their lifestyle change and journey into growing tamarillos.
Paul is another newcomer to horticulture, with just a few years under his belt on his property in Katikati, Bay of Plenty. Paul manages a beautifully maintained blood orange orchard alongside his unique passionfruit orchard (where 25% of the vines are standard purple passionfruit and 75% are a special gold variety).
Paul came to horticulture looking for a change from his long and successful career in hairdressing both here in New Zealand, and overseas in Australia and England. As he had spent his childhood in a rural community it had been a goal of his to get back to that kind of life again - working within a peaceful and natural environment, ideally near a smaller country township next to the sea.
When asked how he found the shift to a new career after so many years in the fashion industry, Paul refers to his past life which involved constantly learning new skills, executing regular changes and growing and evolving his company's workplaces, staff and clientele. He believes years of adapting to change in those situations has given him the motivation and confidence to just give things a go. He jokes that it's not really too different: "I've simply moved from cutting (styling) hair in the city - to cutting (pruning) plants in the country."
Paul’s got a couple of niche offerings on his property. He is the only commercial passionfruit grower with a special hybrid variety of perfectly sweet, golden passionfruit. They make a very nice change from the standard purple variety. His blood oranges, which are also rarely seen growing here in NZ, have varying degrees of beautiful red coloured pulp and a sweet berry flavour to them. With approx. 110 Blood Orange trees of 3 different varieties, Paul's aim is to grow all his fruit as organically as he can, in unison with mother nature, meaning no herbicides or pesticides on the blood oranges. Paul has a great outlook on life and is always keen to see his fruit enjoyed by as many people as possible.
We're busy working on our grower profiles! Watch this space - we'll be adding more soon!