A South Canterbury orchardist has created a new icon on State
Highway 1 to sell his fruit.
The bright blue barn just north of Timaru is unmissable by
traffic driving up the main road. With a sign proclaiming it
is the growers' market, it sells fresh produce from Waipopo
Orchards and other local suppliers.
Waipopo Orchards owner Peter Bennett said he set up the
outlet at the site 20 months ago. A year prior to that he had
used a different site but chose this one for its obvious
Mr Bennett has been a fruitgrower all his life. His company
has four orchards from Seadown to Pleasant Point, covering
about 80ha. Another 40ha of land is being planted.
South Canterbury's climate is excellent for this type of
horticulture, he said. The trees blossom at about the same
time as their North Island counterparts, but the fruit is
harvested much later. It then has higher sugars and pressure,
making it sweeter and firmer.
Waipopo Orchards mainly supplies export markets, with the
blue barn a chance for local consumers to sample the wares at
Apples are one of the main crops. Apricots, peaches and
nectarines are also popular.
Mr Bennett said he has been supplying Sainsbury's
in Britain ever since deregulation came in. It bought his
Cox's Orange, gala and Braeburn apples.
One apple grown exclusively by Waipopo is ''honey crisp''. Mr
Bennett brought it in from the United States and is now
supplying markets there during their own off-season.
Noted for its sweet, extremely juicy, large-sized fruit, is
also available at the blue barn this season.
Customers come from as far away as Christchurch for the
stonefruit, Mr Bennett said. Apricots are in the shop from
early January to May.
An increasing number of other local growers are approaching
him to have their produce sold at the barn. There is a wide
range of fruit and vegetables filling the shelves and
''We've built it up as we've gone along,'' he said.
It is open all-year-round, seven days a week, also providing
''We try to encourage local people. It's been quite
Mr Bennett said export markets demand no residue on its
fruit, so the produce is free of chemical risks.
Other people are now realising the benefits of orcharding in
South Canterbury, with apples destined for export being
planted at Makikihi.