'Big change' paying off

Former Aucklanders Jered Tate and Jodi Gillam-Taylor, pictured with Stella, recently bought Fairview Orchard near Coal Creek, Roxburgh, and are loving their change of lifestyle. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
Former Aucklanders Jered Tate and Jodi Gillam-Taylor, pictured with Stella, recently bought Fairview Orchard near Coal Creek, Roxburgh, and are loving their change of lifestyle. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
When Jered Tate and Jodi Gillam-Taylor moved to their 4ha ''Jerry's Cherries'' cherry orchard near Coal Creek, Roxburgh, in December 2015, they knew little about running a commercial orchard.

However, their neighbours were happy to help.

Now, the couple own the 24ha Fairview Orchard across the road from where they first started.

Before moving from Auckland, Mr Tate managed four Bridgestone Tyre shops there and was a passionate vegetable gardener at their Auckland home, while Miss Gillam-Taylor worked in an office.

Mr Tate said the decision to move to Central Otago was a lifestyle choice, rather than a financial decision.

He decided growing fruits and vegetables was what he wanted to do, so they bought their 4ha cherry orchard in Roxburgh in 2015.

''We had no experience, absolutely none [growing fruit],'' Mr Tate said.

''It was a big change for us.

''All the figures suggested we could live off that size land [4ha] but we were never going to be millionaires.''

''As well as that, I wanted to go snowboarding and did not want to do too much for the rest of the year.''

Miss Gillam-Taylor initially worked in a supermarket and then in an insurance office in Alexandra, while Mr Tate ran their cherry block and later worked for Cherry International, which owned Fairview Orchard.

Their neighbours were happy to share their knowledge and often provided advice, including calling them early in the morning to let them know it was time to start frost-fighting.

Miss Gillam-Taylor said they had been extremely lucky since arriving in Roxburgh.

''We have fantastic neighbours who have given us tips and pointers.

''That help was something I was not expecting ... it has been amazing.''

They bought Fairview Orchard in November last year, and grow pipfruit and summerfruit for the export and local markets.

The orchard was originally owned by Stephen Jeffery, who sold it to the corporation, which only wanted the cherry-growing operation.

It offered the pipfruit and summerfruit side of the business for sale or lease.

The couple jumped at the opportunity.

''It was all very exciting when we put our hands up to buy it,'' Miss Gillam-Taylor said.

''Then we thought 'What have we done? Did we just do that?'.''

Miss Gillam-Taylor takes care of the books and runs the fruit shop.

They have employed more than 100 staff during the harvesting season, compared with the 15 they had on the smaller block.

Mr Tate planned to introduce a permaculture food forest behind the shop and would grow some spray-free produce for local sale.

-By Yvonne O'Hara

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