Many of our growers view growing kiwifruit more as a lifestyle than as a ‘job’. Zespri growers proudly embrace what they do as a way of life. Our growers earn a living whilst making a contribution to New Zealand as well as playing a role in people’s diet globally, by providing a healthy, nutritious fruit. To hear what Zespri growers have to say about kiwifruit, please see the sections below.
Stephen McTurk – Zespri Organic Green and SunGold Grower
Stephen grows 26 hectares of Zespri Organic Kiwifruit producing 180,000 trays of Zespri Green and 48,000 trays of SunGold per season from 22 hectares of Green Organic and 4 hectares of SunGold Organic Kiwifruit.
“I have been a kiwifruit grower for over thirty years and a certified organic grower for nineteen years. Te Puna orchards include some of the oldest vines in the industry, planted in 1956, and still producing premium kiwifruit 56 years later. The orchard is consistently one of the best producing orchards in the industry. The organic approach is based on a number of factors including sustainability and minimizing environmental impacts.
The orchard is alive with birdlife and plantlife and the organic techniques provide a safe and natural orchard environment. The fruit tastes very good and also stores very well. I love the fact that kiwifruit it is a healthy nutrient dense fruit and I make sure I eat at least two per day. We have put a real focus on improving growing techniques to ensure that our fruit are delicious and sweet and have well developed taste with a sweet sour balance. My whole family enjoy eating both Zespri Green and Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit every day.”
Peter and Maya Sievwright - Zespri Organic Green Kiwifruit
Peter and Maya grow 7 hectares of Zespri Organic Green Kiwifruit . Over the last 5 years their production has ranged from 40,432 trays to 52,614. This year they expect around 54,000 trays.
“I have been married to Maya for 30 years. We have two children, Simon 27 and Karin 24. I was brought up on a sheep and beef farm, trained as a primary school teacher and taught for a few years. I then went overseas for several years working mostly on farms in different countries. While working in Switzerland I met Maya. We got married there, moved back to New Zealand and bought our kiwifruit orchard in 1989. We converted to organics soon after and are fully certified since 1992. We are passionate about growing organically and value the health benefits of eating Zespri kiwifruit.”
Brian's blocks produce about 20,000 Trays off 3 .5 hectares and he also manages his parent’s orchard which produces about 75,000 trays off 12 hectares.
“I have been in the kiwifruit industry for many years now. I think I was about 8 or 9 years old when I started helping prepare kiwifruit trays in my parents’ packhouse during school holidays and weekends. I did a Horticulture course at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic when I finished school. My father then broke his leg and needed help so I started working for my parents. I ended up buying my own small orchard when I was 23. Now I own two orchards and lease one as well as helping manage my parent’s orchards.
My partner Kate and I have a 9 month old baby, Elsie who loves our walks around the orchard which involves pulling off fruit, (I think we have lost a few export fruit because of it though). We enjoy growing Zespri Kiwifruit and always look for new ways to improve the fruit we grow and send to our customers.”
Dave and Julie Smith - Zespri Green and Gold Kiwifruit
A commitment to growing quality kiwifruit and developing innovative orchard practices attracted Dave and Julie Smith back to the land to tend to a struggling orchard to build a home base for their large family.
Looking though the scaffolding of what will be their new family home in the middle of their Green Kiwifruit orchard, Dave and Julie view the result of their efforts over the past few years with pride. After much attention and hard work, this orchard is now a high performing orchard, with a quality crop of kiwifruit nearly due for harvest.
When Dave and Julie first visited this orchard, they described the site as unloved but with limitless potential. They purchased the land and embarked on a journey of investment, hard work and dedication. They shared a strong vision for the orchard and for what will soon be their family home.
Both Dave and Julie have been heavily involved with the kiwifruit industry for over 30 years, and are not ones to shy away from a challenge. When global consumer feedback indicated a demand for better tasting kiwifruit, Dave and Julie worked closely with Zespri to improve the yield and quality of fruit from their orchards year on year.
They invested a lot of time, money and energy in getting the balance of organic matter in the soils right. Julie describes the soil as the key to healthy vines, good sized kiwifruit, greater orchard yields and better tasting fruit packed full of nutrients and vitamins. She describes the hairy brown fruit as a true jewel with a rich green gem inside.
With farming in their blood, Dave and Julie are also working to establish a museum on their orchard with farming equipment and tools that were used by Dave’s late father and grandfather. Their main motivation is to preserve history in this ever-increasing fast paced world and to ensure that future generations can see and understand the effort that was put in farming practices.