Ian and Noni are proud horticulturalists with a taste for feijoas! After 10 years of harvesting and eating feijoas, they still love them!
Running a small farm in Oropi, Tauranga, Ian and Noni have cultivated an outdoor life filled with produce and animals. They have a small summertime market garden, a house garden and orchard. There are ducks and chickens to help with their egg consumption, as well as for pest management on the farm! A few beefies roam the paddocks, and we can’t forget their dogs Jazz and Goldie, who are always up for a run around the orchard.
Noni is also an early childhood teacher, and both Ian and Noni are involved in community groups in their spare time.
More than 1,000 feijoa trees make up this beautiful silvery-green orchard nestled amongst the hills of Oropi. While they are not organically certified, Ian and Noni operate their orchard using organic and permaculture principles for completely spray-free, delicious feijoas! The fruit is touch-picked from the tree, rather than off the ground, resulting in no bruises and a longer shelf-life. The orchard was planted around 12 years ago, with the Kakariki and Unique varieties offering a nice early start to the season and large sized fruit.
All around this incredible farm are sunflowers, vegetables, flowers, and fruit trees. With the boundary of the property running along the Waimapu stream, Ian and Noni have retired a large area and lovingly restored it by planting thousands of NZ natives. The increase in kotare (kingfisher), piwakawaka (fantails) and other native birds is a testament to the progress and hard work Ian and Noni have put into their property over the years.
Perched a little higher in the hills of Pyes Pa outside Tauranga, are our second team of feijoa growers, Liz & Si. Their orchard contains around 300 feijoa trees, nestled in amongst native trees and a eucalyptus wind break, of the varieties Wiki Tu and Opal Star. These varieties ripen their fruit mid- to late-season, perfectly extending the feijoa season for our Bay Tropics customers! Liz & Si grow their feijoas using organic principles – the orchard is completely spray-free and also boasts a team of Pekin ducks doing the rounds as pest control!
Liz and Si purchased their property around 5 years ago, and it came with the feijoa orchard. Their two, now teenage boys are always helping out bagging up fruit for their fruit stall, mowing the orchard, picking fruit or anything else that needs doing. Of course, there are perks to the job – youngest son Samson manages to eat about 10 large Opal Star feijoas a night! I’m not sure we should mention that Si is not a fan of feijoas at all, they are really an acquired taste.
Life gets seriously busy as an owner/operator orchardist, along with kids and everything else that needs to be done! When they’re not working hard, Liz, Si and their boys love hitting the beach, surfing & bodyboarding, or playing and watching football and netball.
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!