Employee Nicola Grigg sells Grown's Brussels sprouts and yams at the Christchurch Farmers Market at Riccarton House. Photo by David Hill
North Canterbury grower Cam Booker never thought he would
earn recognition for growing Brussels sprouts.
Mr Booker and wife Melissa received a highly commended award
for their Grown brand for an entry of yams, Brussels sprouts,
kale and sweet pointer capsicums in the Taste New Zealand
Farmers Market Awards recently.
''People tend to have a rather polarised opinion of Brussels
sprouts. They either love them or hate them. I remember when
I was a kid, just about gagging on Brussels sprouts.
''I have always had a policy that I only grow what I enjoy
eating myself, but I don't mind them [Brussels sprouts] any
Mr Booker said the judges complimented his Brussels sprouts
as ''some of the best grown in New Zealand'' and he believed
the secret is the North Canterbury frosts.
''We wait until they get the frost on them to juice them up a
bit before we harvest them.
''We plant them at a density so we end up with small ones,
rather than big ones, otherwise they end up too much like
cabbages and it's easier to cook them when they are small.''
He said serving Brussels sprouts with bacon, pine nuts and
garlic, was a good way to get children to eat them.
''Anything served with bacon is always good with children,
''Preferably bacon purchased from a farmers market, of
Kale is traditionally a winter feed for cows, but Mr Booker
said it is growing in popularity as a ''super food for
He said some people used kale like silver beet or spinach and
cooked it with garlic or butter, while others made kale
smoothies or kale chips.
The Bookers, who grow a variety of vegetables on 6ha block at
Sefton, north of Rangiora, and sell their produce at seven
Canterbury farmers markets, have previously won the ''in the
paddock'' category in the 2011 Taste New Zealand Farmers
Market Awards for their purple cauliflower, Romanesco (or
Roman cauliflower) and ''sunshine squash''.
Mr Booker said the purple cauliflower and sunshine squash
were still popular, especially with children, however the
purple cauliflower did not grow as well in winter as other
types of cauliflower.
The Bookers were beaten by a Gisborne avocado grower in the
''from the paddock'' category in this year's awards.
''It is pretty difficult because there are a heck of a lot of
entries from farmers markets throughout the country,'' Mr
''How do you judge a Brussels sprout versus an avocado? It is
about the way it is presented and the story that goes with