Cher Yu and her mother, Aihua, sell their home grown produce at Grey Lynn Farmers Market on Sunday mornings.
Where did you grow up?
The Shandong province in China, but I moved to Wellington 20 years ago as a college student.
What happened after you left high school?
I moved to Hawkes Bay to study nursing and that’s where I met my husband. Now we have two primary school-aged boys.
What about your Mum, when did she move to New Zealand?
Mum was a business woman marketing textiles in Hong Kong and mainland China. When she retired 8 years ago, she moved here to be with our family.
That’s a big change from marketing textiles to growing vegetables - how did that happen?
Mum had always wanted a garden so when we moved to a lifestyle block it was the perfect opportunity to grow our own food. Mum tries to follow organic philosophies.
How did growing your own vegetables morph into selling at the market?
Mum was growing more than we could eat so we gave the excess to friends and neighbours. They loved our produce, especially the beans - they are Mum’s specialty. A couple of years ago a shop approached us to sell our beans so she slowly grew more and more. Mum’s business instincts kicked in and we started looking for somewhere to sell our produce directly to customers. That’s how we found Grey Lynn Farmers Market.
What has the market been like for you?
Mum loves coming to the market - it’s a very social day for her. Customers are very patient with her and her English has improved significantly - she understands more than she can speak. We’ve built up a following of regular customers who appreciate the different varieties that Mum likes to grow. She enjoys telling people how to eat and prepare things that they aren’t familiar with. The watermelon radishes have been very popular.
Do you grow your vegetables in a greenhouse?
No - Mum prefers to grow vegetables outside. We do have an old wooden shed with a plastic roof, but Mum uses it for raising seedlings and growing chrysanthemums. Mum’s flowers are beautiful so we hope that customers will enjoy this new addition to our range.
Is this just your Mum’s work?
I’ve been helping out quite a bit but following Mum’s instructions, especially after she hurt her knee. And my boys have helped with the weeding and planting seeds - it’s great for getting them away from screens. They love the insects and are learning which ones are good and bad for the garden.
So this has turned into a family project
Yes - it is keeping us very fit and we’ve lost weight. We are eating more healthy with all these fresh vegetables and our skin is more healthy.
Do you get any free time?
Not much, but we make sure that get back to Hawkes Bay for holidays to catch up with friends and old tutors from our years studying there.