17 Dec 2023

Dig your own veges: Bring a fork, bucket and gumboots

From Country Life, 11:05 am on 17 December 2023
Cam Booker

Cam checks his pea crop Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Cam Booker is hoping a good crowd will turn up on Christmas eve to dig their own spuds and pick peas at his market garden in Sefton.  

Rain or shine, Cam and his wife Melissa have held the festive harvesting day for ten years at their North Canterbury property.

"For a lot of families now it's their tradition to come out here and pick peas and dig for Christmas potatoes," Cam said.

In the ground this year were the Massey and later maturing Greenfeast dwarf peas.

However, getting the yield plump and tender is being hampered by some hit and miss weather, he said.

"We do need some more heat to bring the Greenfeast on, as it's the main variety for the pick your own day."  


Rows of early season Anuschka potatoes Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Spud-wise, Cam normally grows Jersey Bennes for the Christmas market, but due to a shortage of Jersey Benne potato seed he's gone for the red-skinned Desiree and the Anuschka variety, that was bred in Germany.

"The relatively new Anuschka is an early season, yellow fleshed potato which is very good for boiling and roasting," he said.

The Booker's also grow strawberries, asparagus, sweetcorn, broccoli, cabbages, tomatoes, chillies and capsicums. Most of the produce is sold at local Farmers Markets and at the farm gate through an honesty box system.

Click here for details about the Christmas eve dig and pick your own day at the Grown Market Garden.


Looking towards the packing shed from the market garden Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes


Melissa and Cam Booker pick all the strawberries themselves Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes