23 Nov 2018

Growing in Gisborne: the future looks as rosy as a Jazz apple

From Country Life, 9:16 pm on 23 November 2018
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Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

Tim Egan co-owns a 39-hectare orchard near Gisborne producing apples, gold kiwifruit and grapes.

Business is "going really, really well," he says.

The key to being successful in horticulture is growing high-value crops that overseas markets want, and planting the right crop for the region you live in, Tim says.

In recent years, there have been significant new plantings of apple trees (Envy and Jazz) and gold kiwifruit (Sun Gold) and hundreds of hectares of new kiwifruit plantings now dot the region.

Many of the apple and kiwifruit plantings are replacing traditional crops like sweet corn, peas and tomatoes.

Cropping farmers are wanting to grow a permanent crop that has a higher return, Tim says.

All this growth means there are plenty of jobs going.

Listen to Tim's Illawarra Orchard crew talk about working in horticulture here.

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Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

Tim chairs an employment-focused organisation called Tipu, which connects growers and job-seekers.

A lot of attention is paid to up-skilling growers' knowledge around pastoral care because that's key to keeping people in the workforce, Tim says.

Poverty Bay has a reasonably high number of unemployed or solo parents, and Tim says rather than seeing that as a liability for an area "we're looking at it as an absolute asset...".

"If we can find the roadblocks to them working and assist them into work then that's an opportunity to help us as growers and also the whole community."

Some Gisborne growers now offer employment during school hours, transport assistance and lunches on site, Tim says.

Primary ITO offers training and qualifications for horticultural careers. You can find out more on their website.

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