In 2003, Annette and I sold our importing business and moved to Hawkes Bay for a lifestyle change. We bought a 10-acre block on Longlands Road, 5 minutes southwest of Havelock North. It was planted in a variety of apples and pears. We started a roadside stall, calling ourselves “Longlands Fruit and Veg”.
One customer was particularly taken with our fruit and asked if we could supply him wholesale. He was the Produce Manager for New World Waipukurau. Within a few months we were supplying all the New Worlds, Pak’n’Saves and Four Squares in the area. This wholesale business grew to be much larger than we were able to supply from our own property, both in terms of volume and variety so we approached a number of other local growers and bought from them as well. We did this for many years and during that time got to know which growers were the best and which sprayed least (or not at all). To cover all the different crops we settled on half a dozen who met these criteria.
Four years ago, we sold and returned to Auckland, to the same Grey Lynn terrace house we had purchased more than 30 years before. However, we were anxious to stay in the fruit business, having built up such a good direct supply line. For two years we had a shop in Onehunga plus a “Pop-up” stall opposite the entrance to Kings Plant Barn in St Lukes. Two years ago, we swapped to doing just two Farmers Markets - Grey Lynn Farmers Market on Sunday mornings and Parnell (behind the Blind Institute) on Saturdays.
We still buy direct from these same orchardists who deliver crate loads to the refrigerated truck depot which then amalgamates produce from several growers, palletises and transports up to us overnight every Thursday. We sort on Fridays. On Saturdays and Sundays sell fruit which had been picked on the Thursday. We know the provenance of every piece of fruit we sell.