The Accidental Orchardist

The Accidental Orchardist

David Whyte describes himself as an accidental orchardist. It all started four years ago when he and Tiffany were on the hunt for a lifestyle block with the vision of establishing a food forest – a multi-species, multi-layered forest system of mostly perennial plants. Serendipity meant the property found them, and they became the new custodians of a 1/2 hectare citrus orchard. The orchard had been neglected for 15 years and required a massive pruning task, but now in year five they are down to 25% of the trees still needing heavy pruning. David has also, and importantly, put in a concerted effort to learn about the soil, the needs of the citrus trees and the needs of the humans who eat the fruit. This video from September last year, tells the whole story and helps explain why David and Tiffany’s citrus are so sweet and delicious! In addition to ensuring all the trace elements are present in the soil, David has learnt a lot about the colouring variations in citrus. Did you ever notice that oranges you buy in a supermarket, are a uniform orange colour? If you’re curious to know why, David explains it in detail in this video and gives yet another reason to buy from organic growers and those who are spray-free.  In the early days, when they started harvesting, they took the fruit to a Sunday Farmers Market in Clevedon. He said it almost killed them. The orchard wasn’t giving them enough income to live off, and by the time they did a Saturday pick, clean, sort and pack, then got up at the crack of dawn to get to the...
A Challenge Worth Taking On

A Challenge Worth Taking On

When I first reach Frans de Jong at his Matamata orchard Southern Belle, he asks me to call him back in five minutes since he’s busy checking the weather. “A very important part of the job,” Frans tells me through a joyous laugh and a thick Netherlands accent. A family-run business, Southern Belle is the current supplier of delicious Red Sweetpoint capsicums to dozens of Ooooby customers each week. It also produces feijoas. Last April the orchard was announced Supreme winner of the Waikato Farm Environment Awards where it collected the Harvest Award, the Innovation Award, the Integrated Management Award and the Soil Management Award. “It was very humbling,” says Frans who tells me that his arm had to be twisted to even enter the competition. “As a family, we usually work longer hours than most. But I’d like to turn that into a positive.” Frans credits marking oneself out from the crowd as the biggest challenge for smallholders and a factor likely to determine whether or not they will achieve success. “We’ve established ourselves as a quality grower by doing things totally differently,” he tells me. “That’s not to say it’s always easy to do, but you have differentiate yourself to make it work.” So how did he do it? While at first the de Jong’s listened to advice from the previous owners of their farm, it wasn’t until Frans applied his own background in analytical chemistry to processes at Southern Belle that the magic started to happen. “You start to look at things differently and understand the biological system,” Frans explains. “For example, learning to use predator insects to control harmful insects and beneficial soil microbes in the root zone to...
Why 52% of fresh food produce is wasted and how can we change our food system

Why 52% of fresh food produce is wasted and how can we change our food system

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is on a rampage to expose the ridiculous levels of food waste caused by our modern food systems. Hugh’s War on Waste programme on BBC tells the story of a Norfolk veg farmers who were forced to discard 40% of their harvest because they were too long, too short or just wonky which equates to approximately 20 tonnes of parsnips each week. The percentage of food going to waste has been steadily increasing over the last 40 years and is now reaching ludicrous proportions. This is clearly unsustainable and begs the question ‘what can we do to reverse this trend?’ Our current food waste numbers It’s estimated that around 24% of fresh produce is wasted before it reaches the supermarkets, 9% is binned by the supermarkets and another 19% is tossed before it reaches our forks resulting in less than half  getting into our bellies.* The diagram above shows that the largest proportion of waste (24%) comes from farmers growing more than the supermarkets buy.  They do this for two reasons; the supermarket sales model is based on visual merchandising which means that they only want cosmetically beautiful food forcing the farmer to cull anything that isn’t picture book perfect, and the supermarket supply chain requires food to be in transit and sit on shelves for a long time, so even the smallest blemishes need to be eliminated in case they spread over time and betray the lack of freshness of the whole batch. The remaining part of supply chain waste (9%) comes from food that is left on the shelf.  This is the result of merchandising psychology....
Why we’re starting an Ooooby Hub In Christchurch

Why we’re starting an Ooooby Hub In Christchurch

Fresh local organic food is found mostly at weekend Farmer’s Markets. So, Garden City 2.0 created a mid-week home delivery service that provides greater access for households craving real food, plus it gives these same growers at the market a reliable and consistent new revenue stream. Since we began, a little over two years ago, we’ve been talking with Ooooby about how they have been developing their service. Earlier this year, the team at Garden City 2.0 realised that so many of the operational processes we need for the crew, along with features we want to offer customers, have already been built into the Ooooby software and systems – so it made perfect sense to form a new partnership here in Christchurch. Ooooby is bringing advanced IT infrastructure, uber-efficient operational systems and people-friendly interface. Together with our knowledge of the local market, organic supply networks and connections with Christchurch communities, we feel this is a compelling proposition and a really positive step for our local food system!   Furthermore, we’re excited about shifting our existing packing hub into the inner city – a melting pot of innovative, community-led projects and collaboration. The purpose of this is to reveal the true nature of the food distribution and make it more accessible and interactive for the public. Fresh produce looks amazing, it’s so radiant and full of life that it really is a pleasure to be around, let alone work with. It captures people’s attention and this visibility is our most powerful engagement tool, so we want to be in a space that can host this activity and multiply the impact...
We’re down with Ooooby – Adam & Tink

We’re down with Ooooby – Adam & Tink

About three years ago Tink and I moved from Wellington to a 12 acre block in Kāpiti with dreams of community and growing food. When we heard Pete and James speak at a local talk earlier this year our curiosity was piqued. After a few false starts and a lot of discussion we realised that Ooooby aligned with our dreams and values and began talking to them about how we might get involved. The more we talked the more we felt that Ooooby provides a powerful way for us to build a livelihood from our home in Kāpiti while hopefully providing a valuable contribution to the local food system. Tink is an ardent foodie and we both believe that great food is an essential part of good health. Ooooby will let us help local growers get produce to customers for a fair price.  We hope that will result more growers producing organic food for sale locally for the benefit of the entire region! We’ve been talking to lots of people about Ooooby and have been surprised and excited to discover how many people are eager to support great local food.  Bring it on! Adam &...
Why would a Trust invest in Ooooby?

Why would a Trust invest in Ooooby?

As well as making this an easy choice for existing customers, we think we’ve made a compelling case for organisations to invest. A private NZ trust that wishes to remain anonymous, offered us this to share, after pledging $60k: This is the best local investment opportunity we have seen in three years of looking for ways to invest in sustainable food production. In evaluating the opportunity, we valued Ooooby’s slow and steady growth, the commitment of its people, and how the software the company has developed opens up new markets. Ooooby sits squarely in the impact investment class which makes this investment offer relevant to Trusts who are seeking to support social and ecological advancement. By investing in Ooooby your Trust is able to make a positive impact and a return on investment. Download the full Investment Memorandum at pldg.me/ooooby Capital is now being raised to roll out the system in new towns and cities across NZ. Trusts have invested $100,000 of the $200,000+ raised so far (Sep 18). Individuals have invested the other half. The current share offer closes at 8pm 29th September 2015. Call or email to discuss: Pete Russell – 021 147 3266 pete@ooooby.org or James Samuel – 021 252 0653 james@ooooby.org How are we tracking We’ve had a great response with 89 pledgers to date. We were very excited to reach our minimum target after only 8 days, and we’re still determined to achieve our silver and gold targets. Ooooby is on a mission to make local food convenient, affordable and fair everywhere, and we’ll be able to achieve so much more if we can reach those...