NORTHERN FARMING LIFESTYLES
by Ann van Engelen Grant and Emma Plaisted have nearly 12 acres of orchard where they grow tamarillos, feijoa and avocado.
he couple met at police training college in Wellington and entered into the fruit growing industry through good friends. “We helped them harvest their avocados and things and decided that the lifestyle looked quite good. We found this property nearby with the previous owners needing to retire,” says Grant. “They had a lot of infrastructure in place, and we re-established and refreshed the orchard. Originally we had avocado and red tamarillos but now grow feijoa and gold and orange tamarillos as well. Diversification is part of the difficulty in growing tamarillos and as they are seasonal and feijoa make it a real fruit salad orchard.
“When we started nine years ago, the liberibacter virus was going around from a psyllid, which is a tiny cicada. It affects the nightshade family — tomato, potato and tamarillo. The pest comes from North America and sucks the life out of the plants, and once the trees are affected, they will die. Our native cicada doesn’t cause a problem. “Tamarillos used to grow all over the district, but now there are just a few registered growers. We replanted the whole tamarillo section and propagate our own seeds. If we plant this season, we will get fruit next season. It is approximately an 18-month crop that you get about five years from but we plan on two to three years for consistency.”
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Grant and Emma Plaisted grow tamarillo, avocado and feijoa in their orchard
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