22 Mar 2019

Unwanted spuds become Tuahiwi Gold

From Country Life, 9:33 pm on 22 March 2019
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Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

After suffering an accident 20 years ago, Chris Ashwell could no longer drive trucks. For something to do, he started planting vegetables in his back garden. Quickly, the joy of growing food blossomed into an organic market garden business spread across 13 hectares of fertile land near Rangiora.

Chris has always practised organic farming.

When he started with his wife Kath, someone told him 'if you're going to become a market gardener be an organic one, that's where the money is,' and he's never looked back.

It's been a labour of love, though.

"You're in the cold, you're out every day, you're on your hands and knees covered in mud. Even in the winter, these things keep growing. We used to grow 110 different varieties when we were young and fit but I've canned a lot of that."

Chris's most successful vegetable is the award-winning Tuahiwi Gold potato.

He was once given a tonne of the previously unpopular chipping spud and now has the only seed stock for it in the country.

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Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes