From corporate rush to luscious berries: The Trotters' journey to Red Bridge Berries farm

From corporate rush to luscious berries: The Trotters' journey to Red Bridge Berries farm

Ben and Rebecca Trotter made the remarkable decision to transition from the corporate world to agricultural life seven years ago after the birth of their second child when Rebecca decided she didn't particularly want to go back to office work.

The couple's decision to trade their business suits for gumboots led them to establish Red Bridge Berries, a strawberry farm located in Wanaka, amidst Central Otago's orchards. Their journey is one of resilience and innovation, particularly as they navigated the challenges of farming in a cold climate and overcame initial scepticism from locals. 

Rebecca Trotter provides a candid account of their beginnings, to Dom George.

"We spent our whole winter watching YouTube videos on how to start a strawberry farm," she says.

Despite doubts from others, who warned they might "go bankrupt," the Trotters trusted their research and instincts. 

"We did a trial plot in our home garden... I knew that they grew in a cold climate because they grow a lot in the Northern Hemisphere… there's no reason why they wouldn't [grow here]." 

Their success is evident as their farm now attracts crowds, especially during the summer. Trotter recalls the early days, "Our first day opening weekend, we actually got picked out... We didn't really know what to expect." 

The farm not only offers a Pick Your Own strawberry experience but also boasts a shop with a bold guarantee. 

"If you buy a watermelon from us, it will be ripe. Otherwise, you get your money back," she asserts, underscoring the confidence they have in the quality of their produce. 

Aside from strawberries, the Trotters diversified their agricultural venture to include beef farming with a techno grazing system and recently ventured into hydroponic cultivation of herbs and salad greens. The innovative move into hydroponics was driven by a desire to provide fresher and more sustainable produce to local restaurants and businesses struggling with distribution challenges due to the region's isolation. 

Throughout the conversation, the themes of community and family resonate strongly. Trotter speaks of creating "a nice family memory" for visitors and the importance of "teaching our children where their food comes from." Their farm has become more than just a source of fresh produce; it's a place where local families, tourists, and food enthusiasts can connect with the land and enjoy the fruits of the Trotters' labour. 

The Trotters' tale is a heartwarming example of how passion and hard work can transform a vision into a thriving enterprise that not only supports a family but also enriches the community. 

Listen to the full chat between Rebecca Trotter and Dominic George above.

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