Q and A with Hunters Organic Farm

Q and A with Hunters Organic Farm

“We hope customers appreciate the effort we put into our garden and farm to produce quality vegetables and herbs.”

One of the longest-standing organic growers for Ooooby, Sally and Huunter of Hunters Organic Farm tell us a little about what it means to them to be an organic farmer. They have also recently started a new farm in Waikato, with rich, healthy soils and they are supplying Ooooby with amazing fresh produce. Let’s get to know them a little better…

Why have you chosen to be a farmer and for how long have you been farming?     

We began to operate a market garden in February 2004. We love to work with plants and it has literally grown from there.

Why organic / regenerative / biodynamic farming over conventional farming?          

a. Organic farming provides healthy chemical free food.

b. It is good for our planet mother earth.

c. It is important for us not to expose ourselves to a dangerous environment and direct contact to harmful chemicals, while enjoying the gardening and growing we do.

Why do you grow the products you do and what is your favourite produce to grow?  

We began with a lot more varieties and gradually moved to focus on what we are growing now, which are more popular.

Cavolo nero – Hunters Organic Farm

What are the biggest challenges you face?   

We have to adjust to the change of climate, and it is sometimes unpredictable as to how much to produce at a certain time of the year to meet demands.

“It is good for our planet mother earth.”

What do you wish consumers knew and appreciated about the food you grow? 

To grow organically, we are putting in much more effort than people may be aware of, especially physical labour.

For example, we need to go out to the field with a torch at night time to manually remove the slugs, because so far there is no better way to control slugs efficiently and effectively and organically.

We hope customers appreciate the effort we put into our garden and farm to produce quality vegetables and herbs.

What effect has working with Ooooby had on you? 

We have committed to working with Ooooby, so that we plan everything a few months ahead, starting from seed sowing to secure the future supply. It works well as we know what we grow will not be wasted. 

Hunters Organic Farm - Kale
Kale – Hunters Organic Farm

“Organic farming provides healthy chemical free food”

What is the strangest / toughest thing you have tried to grow? 

Salsify, parsely roots, but gave up in the end.

What is your favourite fruit / veg to eat? 

Leafy greens, parsley, coriander, broccolini.

Do you have a funny story / anecdote from your time in the field? 

In the early morning in summer, there are a pair of cranes (birds), which land in our field and help with catching the crickets. They arrive on time, finish their tasks, have a rest on the roof, and move on. They are our friends.

Do you have any particular recipes or ideas for the best use of some of your products? 

Simply sprinkle chopped coriander on any dish 🙂

To find out more:

Do you want to see which of the delicious organic produce From Hunters Organic Farm is currently available through Ooooby? Click here – Hunters Organic Farm Produce

Visit https://www.ooooby.co.nz to get all your organic food needs delivered to your home and don’t forget that all this great produce can help keep you healthy.

Already a fan of Ooooby and want to help us spread the word while also standing the chance to win 1 year of FREE Ooooby produce? Read here to learn more: Ooooby Referral Competition.

Q and A with Raymond Garb

Q and A with Raymond Garb

“A lot of effort goes into improving and balancing the soil so that veggies can have what they need”

Originally supplying produce to Ooooby Christchurch, Raymond Garb is one of our long-standing growers. Now located just a hop, skip and jump from Pukekohe on a shared plot of land, Raymond grows farm fresh organic produce exclusively for Ooooby Auckland and we think he is just swell. Get to know Raymond a little better by reading on.

Why have you chosen to be a farmer and for how long have you been farming? 

I have always been interested in caring for the environment and I read some fascinating stuff on organic farming as a teenager.

I then decided to find a way to practice it and I have been growing organically for over 20 years now – first working for other people and then for myself.

Why organic farming over conventional farming? 

There are lots of reasons:

Being a better steward for a small patch of our shared planet earth; producing food that tastes delicious and does not contain chemical residues.

Plus, using organic methods is more interesting and challenging!

Why do you grow the products you do and what is your favourite produce to grow? 

Currently, Silverbeet, Perpetual Spinach and Kale – They are the veggies that grow best for me in this particular patch. I like growing any veggies, but always want them to be able to be their best.

What are the biggest challenges you face? 

There is no water to irrigate the veggies so growing quality organic veggies with no watering is an exciting challenge, but very dry summers are difficult. 

There are also pesky pukekos and ravenous rabbits who love to munch on my organic veggie seedlings.

What do you wish consumers knew and appreciated about the food you grow? 

I try to use old-fashioned heirloom varieties whenever possible – for their nutrition and flavour. 

A lot of effort goes into improving and balancing the soil so that veggies can have what they need to be as delicious and nutritious as possible. Being certified organic is a level of quality assurance that these veggies have been produced to official standards and are the ‘real deal’.

“The hardest thing to grow is healthy, living soil”

What effect has working with Ooooby had on you? 

They are so great to work with that now I only sell veggies to them. In times past I have supplied many different outlets.

The Ooooby team are excellent communicators, prompt at paying their growers and even have interesting personalities!

What is the strangest / toughest thing you have tried to grow? 

There have been a few interesting ones: celeriac, kohlrabi, Florence fennel, Baby Bear pumpkins and dried lemon balm for herbal tea bags.

The hardest thing to grow is healthy, living soil where the veggies can thrive. But in the right soil, the veggies are happy and just do their thing.

Raymond’s Organic Romanesco Broccoli

“Being a better steward for a small patch of our shared planet earth”

What is your favourite fruit / veg to eat? 

I like to eat a wide range of fruit and veggies and a lot of them! My favourite veggie is beetroot, oven roasted in oil with rosemary until crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.

Do you have a funny story / anecdote from your time in the field? 

Some of the ‘Baby Bear’ pumpkins that I grew were very small – down to about the size of a mandarin.

I gave one to my little nephew, who loved and cherished it and even slept with it, tucked into his bed. One day I gave a larger version of this miniature pumpkin to his mother, who cooked it for dinner that night.

As they were eating she asked ‘So do you like the pumpkin?’ 

‘What pumpkin?’ 

‘This pumpkin we’re eating’. 

He burst into tears ‘What! I can’t believe you could be so mean! How could you cook and eat a baby pumpkin!’ 

After that I gave them regular pumpkins for dinner. Nowadays, he proudly grows his own – but only the big ones.

Do you have any particular recipes or ideas for the best use of some of your products? 

Silverbeet and perpetual spinach can be added to virtually anything cooked, as a source of green. I like to eat them both cooked with kelp flakes, seasoned with salt and pepper, with lashings of melted butter!

Silverbeet also makes an interesting edible wrap for an umu (Pacific island hangi), in place of taro leaves. Kale can be baked into crispy healthy chips, added to a stir-fry, or simply fried with cashew nuts.
Rocket is a great salad ingredient. A little goes a long way in adding zing.

Raymond Garb has been growing for Ooooby for a number of years and is a brilliant farmer and is exactly what he states – he is a brilliant steward for the shared patch of planet earth.

To find out more:

Do you want to see which of the delicious organic produce From Raymond Garb is currently available through Ooooby? Click here – Raymond Garb Produce

You can also see how long Raymond Garb has been a favourite of Ooooby by checking out this post from our Christchurch team in 2018: Christchurch FaceBook

Visit https://www.ooooby.co.nz to get all your organic food needs delivered to your home and don’t forget that all this great produce can help keep you healthy.

Already a fan and want to help us spread the word while also standing the chance to win 1 year of FREE Ooooby produce. Read here to learn more: Ooooby Referral Competition.

Q and A with David Whyte from Zestos Organic Farm

Q and A with David Whyte

“I wanted to produce the most nutritious food for my own family.”

Choosing a life that does not fit the mold is not always easy, nor for everyone, but David Whyte from Zestos has forged his own path and is now producing some of the most delicious, nutrient rich citrus fruit available. Here is what David Whyte has to say about being an organic grower in New Zealand.

Why have you chosen to be a farmer and for how long have you been farming?

I fell into producing citrus by accident. We moved to Huntly from Hamilton, as we were in our early 30’s young kids, and couldn’t afford to buy in Hamilton. After a few years in a suburb that was ‘interesting’, we saw a lifestyle block that was very good value. We sold our house and bought it.

The bank in giving the loan, made us promise to cut down all the citrus trees, otherwise it would be a business loan not a home loan.

Fortunately, we only cut down enough to move a house and associated material onsite, we knew nothing about citrus, except for being lovers of trees in general. 

Why organic / regenerative / biodynamic farming over conventional farming?

Biological farming instead of conventional. No brainer! I am a researcher by trade (physics then opto-electronics then biotech / biochemistry and now into fungi) and wanted to produce the most nutritious food for my own family. So why would you not do this for others as well? 

“Ooooby has enabled a healthy lifestyle for the family”

Why do you grow the products you do and what is your favourite produce to grow? 

As I mentioned before, we inherited the tangelo and orange trees with the land. So had no other option! I do love the Washington Navels and would never have a place without them.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

To be honest paperwork. We have just paid a significant chunk last year to be properly registered and inspected as dictated by central governments 2014 food bill.

Coming down the pipeline will be compulsory accreditation for organic farms. Which means we either have to limit our production so we don’t go over the cap of turnover, which triggers accreditation or become accredited.

The problem with accreditation is that it will not remove any ‘bad’ stuff – since we don’t apply anything bad, nor add any value, but will increase costs.

Furthermore, it will stop innovation. Previously we purchased some biodynamic preparations. Although these are obviously organic, they were not accredited so are difficult to use in a certified organic system.  

“we want to produce food that produces life, health, and vitality.”

What do you wish consumers knew and appreciated about the food you grow?

Our produce has the full range of trace elements, which are often not found in citrus from elsewhere. We got rung up by the soil and leaf testing company when we ticked all the trace element testing boxes we did.

In horticultural applications, these trace elements are not required, but to us, it is important since we want to produce food that produces life, health, and vitality.

Although selenium, cobalt, and iodine are not required for plant growth, they are required for optimal human health. These elements were not in our soil, so we added them. Therefore when eating our crop you are getting a full range of trace elements that supports your body. 

What effect has working with Ooooby had on you?

We have worked with Ooooby exclusively almost since inception and it has enabled a healthy lifestyle for the family, where we can maintain the work-life balance that is required for healthy living.

We used to attend farmer’s markets, however, my wife and kids were at work / school Monday to Friday. Then Saturday was spent picking, cleaning, packing the van. Up early Sunday and selling till lunchtime, arriving exhausted mid-afternoon back home. I was able to take Monday off, but the whanau were not. This wasn’t a healthy lifestyle and one that was very draining.

Ooooby has allowed me to do the picking during the week, then washing (and grading out substandard ones if required) as a family on a weekday evening. Then I deliver the product to Ooooby.  

Whyte family sorting produce

“kind of like a bit of summer snuck into winter.”

What is the strangest / toughest thing you have tried to grow?

I really want to successfully grow are subtropical fruits, which is a challenge in the North Waikato were -2C frosts occur once or twice over winter. We are having some success with our first casimiroa (tastes like ice cream) fruiting this year. In time I would love to get Ice Cream Beans growing and fruiting at our place. We will see! 

What is your favourite fruit / veg to eat?

My favourite fruit is tree-ripened granny smiths. Leave them on the tree till at least late June, when they start to change color to get a yellow blush and taste sweet and juicy They are divine. With no summer fruits left, these apples are kind of like a bit of summer snuck into winter. I remember eating them as a kid like this, so no doubt some nostalgia in there too

Do you have a funny story / anecdote from your time in the field?

Tangelo wine doesn’t mature well! One year at the very end of the tangelo season I juiced a couple of litres of tangelo juice. Added yeast and wine nutrient and fermented it out. Once clarified I bottled up and put away for a month or two.

Typically a wine tastes quite harsh until 6 months of age, then slowly improves for some time after this. After about 3 months, my brother and I were doing some homebrew tastings and decided to see how the tangelo wine was going. It tasted pretty good, it had low body which the next batch could be corrected with tannins, but had good color, reasonable taste, so given it was still very young I was very pleased with myself.

I put it away again and pulled out 6+ months later expecting to have a pleasant wine. It was very unpleasantly bitter, so much so it got put down the drain. I was so gutted, and peeved that my hard work had come to nothing and that it got worse with age instead of better! So very unexpected. 

Do you have any particular recipes or ideas for the best use of some of your products?

My mother in law makes a wicked dessert that uses candied tangelo peel sprinkled on top of tangelo ice cream. I have no idea about the recipe but it is delicious.

To find out more:

Do you want to see which of the delicious organic produce From David Whyte is currently available through Ooooby? Click here – David Whyte Produce

You can pop on over to David Whytes YouTube channel to learn more about what they are doing on the farm: David Whyte YouTube

Visit https://www.ooooby.co.nz to get all your organic food needs delivered to your home and don’t forget that all this great produce can help keep you healthy. Read here to learn more about boosting your immunity.