From working at the berry farm to owning it

Raspberry Cottage owner Sarala Tamang (left) and its previous owner Margaret Little crouch beside basil growing at the Waimate farm. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD
Raspberry Cottage owner Sarala Tamang (left) and its previous owner Margaret Little crouch beside basil growing at the Waimate farm. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD
Raspberry Cottage owner Sarala Tamang is farming with a twist, but not without some help.

Originally from Nepal, Mrs Tamang moved to Waimate in 2010. She bought the Raspberry Cottage business and the attached farm from couple Barry and Margaret Little in 2019.

For the six years prior, Mrs Tamang had worked for Mr and Mrs Little, caring for the berries as though they were hers – and now they are.

Using her experience, and with the help of the previous owners’ continued guidance, Mrs Tamang wanted to grow what the supermarket did not offer.

As a regular stallholder at the Oamaru Farmers’ Market, she loved selling directly to the customer, cutting out a long and expensive production line.

She also loved when people brought back containers for her to recycle. Re-using was part of the joy of farming, sourcing seeds from her garden and composting its leftovers.

The slight imperfections found on some of the produce were testament to its organic growth, without sprays or artificial supplements.

Leaving behind her background as an accountant for a wholesale medical distributor, Mrs Tamang said she loved working outdoors, with her hands in the garden.

Every day she tended her garden and learned something new.

“I toss the seeds and watch them go dancing.”

Mrs Little said her successor used all the space she had within the 2ha property and brought new skills to the business.

Since selling their business two years ago, the Littles had stuck around to help ensure Mrs Tamang’s success – but they also did it for the love of it.

Over the years, they had become like family. Before she bought the farm and business, Mrs Tamang lived in a house near the farm, also owned by the Littles.

They have now swapped houses.

The Littles had four boys, so Mrs Tamang was like the daughter they never had, Mrs Little said.

They wanted to see Mrs Tamang “thrive”, especially after experiencing last month’s flooding and hail that damaged some crops.

Mrs Tamang’s husband and 14-year-old son helped on the farm where they could and she loved working with her family – blood-related or otherwise.

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