NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group
SOMETHING SPECIAL TO EAT
Have you ever heard of solberries? Neither had Patrick Malley until one of the workers on his Maungatāpere kiwifruit and berry orchard stumbled across a differently coloured fruit growing among the raspberry plants. “Sol discovered a raspberry sport, meaning a plant had naturally modified. Instead of growing red fruit, it was growing peach-coloured fruit with a tropical flavour. We managed to stabilize it into a variety, named it after Sol, and now have about 2000sqm of plants.” It's remarkable that Sol even managed to spot the solberry, considering the volume of fruit growing at Maungatāpere Berries. In 2019, the 37ha property produced 650,000 punnets of raspberries, 40,000 punnets of blackberries and 15,000 punnets of solberries, and has developed an additional 4ha of blueberries. That's not including the more than 650,000 trays of kiwifruit, which are grown for Zespri. The business keeps Patrick busy, but luckily, extra hands are never far away. Patrick grew up on a Hawke's Bay apple orchard, so his family has always had green fingers. They may not have been put to the best use when he moved to Auckland to pursue a career in publishing and marketing. Still, after he and his wife Rebecca (a vet) decided to turn away from the rat race and find something a little different, those green fingers started to tingle. Patrick, Rebecca, children Eloise and Austin, and Patrick's parents Dermott and Linzi live onsite and have fully embraced Northland life. “Northland has seen so much positive change, and I'm excited to see what happens over the next decade.” Patrick is leading the way. He's focused the business on sustainability, and he's looking not only at environmental practices but also sustainable employment. (The business does use natural solutions wherever possible and recharges the natural aquifers with 137 million litres of water annually — “we're conventionally non-conventional”.) “Orchards and farms can have short employment timeframes, but we want to help locals gain regular employment, including those who might otherwise have a hard time finding a job.” Maungatāpere Berries are available nationwide; however, solberries have limited availability. Try the GAS station in Maungatāpere, or Auckland Countdown stores during summer. maungatapereberries.co.nz and on Facebook.