Down in Clyde, Central Otago lives Hahana Premium Fruit, a company brought to life by Tammy Wilson and her husband Trent to open up a new avenue to sell the apricots they have been growing this season.
Owner/operator, Tammy Wilson shares her diverse journey from dairy farming to the nuanced world of horticulture, where she's currently making strides with innovative apricot varieties under the NZ Summer Fresh label.
One of the key talking points is her approach to rebranding apricots, which has resulted in the development of new varieties like NZ Summer 2 and 3. These apricots are distinct with their low acidity, firmer texture, and red skin.
"They're sweeter than any other apricots," Wilson notes, emphasising the potential for these fruits to carve out their unique market niche, much like the Kiwi Gold revolutionised kiwifruits.
The conversation touches on the challenges and opportunities in creating a brand identity for these apricots that can stand independently, indicating a bright future for the NZ Summer Fresh label.
Wilson explains the delicate balance of introducing these apricots to both local and international markets, considering the fruit's extended shelf life and lower ethylene production, which makes them ideal for exports, particularly to Asian markets.
Another significant point discussed is the commitment to sustainable farming practices. Tammy, along with leading apricot growers Trent and Tim, are dedicated to reducing pesticide use in orchards. They're adopting innovative techniques like the "USO" planting method, which not only promotes eco-friendly farming but also enhances the safety and efficiency of harvesting.
"Some of these sprays cost, I don't know, $2,000 a hectare," she explains, underscoring the economic incentives behind reducing chemical usage.
She also touches on the need for consumer education about accepting less visually perfect fruit as a trade-off for healthier, less chemical-laden produce.
The episode also gives listeners an intimate glimpse into the life of an orchard owner. It documents Wilson's story from acquiring land and planting the first trees to facing the realities of a first harvest marked by learning from mistakes.
"We called it our learning year," she recalls, illustrating the resilience and adaptability needed in the agriculture sector.
Tammy Wilson's narrative encapsulates the essence of modern agriculture – the fusion of traditional farming values with innovative techniques and branding strategies that could potentially reshape the future of fruit farming in New Zealand and beyond.
Listen to the full chat between Tammy Wilson and Dominic George above.