27 Nov 2015

Wairuna Organics

From Country Life, 9:30 pm on 27 November 2015
Shaun McVicker and Janine Gerland  in front of a commercial vegetable cleaner at Wairuna Organics.

Shaun McVicker and Janine Gerland in front of a commercial vegetable cleaner. Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Carrots and garlic are Shaun McVicker's bread and butter.

He grows certified organic vegetables on his fertile property in Clinton, South Otago.

Originally a derelict sheep farm when he bought it 14 years ago, the land has been successfully converted to a well organised market garden that grows over 60 varieties of chemical free vegetables.

Shaun grows five kilometres of carrots a year which equates to a yield of roughly 100 kilograms a week. Each year between 25 and 30 thousand garlic cloves are dug up and keep the Dunedin Farmers' Market supplied year round. Beetroot, lettuce, zucchinis and capsicums are other important cash crops.

The Dunedin Farmers' Market has been the cornerstone of Shaun's business since he gained organic certification. As well as supplying vegetables throughout the year, he also sells Wairuna salads, organic herbal teas, spices, seeds, herbal oils and vinegars at the market.

Most of the workforce on Shaun's farm are WWOOFers or Willing Workers On Organic Farms. There are always at least a dozen WWOOFers on the farm from all over the world. They work about 4 hours a day in exchange for food and accommodation. Most of their time is spent weeding, harvesting and cleaning the fresh produce.

Shaun admits that after adding up all the hours of back breaking work, having an organic market garden is probably not the best money earner but he's happy none-the-less. "We make an okay living but we have brilliant lifestyle, so I'll choose the lifestyle over the money any day!" he says.