Steve McArthur (42) picks raspberries at his Outram berry
farm. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The Otago Farmers Market has made a big difference to
Steve McArthur's Outram horticulture business.
The McArthur's Berry Farm has been in the family for more
than 40 years, but there have been some significant changes
since Mr McArthur bought out his father, Ken McArthur, 12
Supermarkets were much more powerful these days, Mr McArthur
said, and they had long since bypassed the previous Dunedin
regional auction system-instead trucking huge quantities of
fruit and vegetables in and out of Otago themselves.
That made it harder for smaller independent producers to
survive and thrive.
Competing head-to-head with much bigger producers in
Canterbury and elsewhere was difficult, he said.
But that's where the farmers market helped, he said.
It focuses on goods and services provided within Dunedin and
Otago, and gives smaller local producers of fruit and
vegetables an outlet throughout the year.
''It keeps you going. It keeps your cash flow going all year
On his 12ha property he produces more vegetables than his
father did- providing them in greater variety than
previously, and almost year-round, rather than, as
previously, simply for a few months of the year.
The farm has been selling some of its produce through the
market since 2005. Raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries,
black and red currants and boysenberries are provided fresh
from the farm, and are available frozen during winter.
Mr McArthur, who has an agricultural degree from Lincoln
University, has to keep planting all year to keep regular
crop supplies flowing.
And he has to think on his feet to counter unexpected
challenges and take advantage of new opportunities.
A redeveloped farm stall on State Highway 87, close to the
Taieri River Bridge, is open each year from the start of
December until the end of April.
It offers an expanded range of produce, including a blend of
ice cream and fruit.
The farmers market has not only helped him market some of his
produce throughout the year, but has also enabled him to
supply on a more boutique basis, without the need to generate
the high volumes required for the supermarket trade.
The outcome had been a win-win situation for him and his
customers, he said.
He gets a reasonable return, they pay a competitive price,
and the fruit and vegetables are of good quality and tend to
be a bit fresher-not having been trucked long distances to
He enjoys the close links he has formed with customers, who
can discuss his produce with him.