Growing the Greenhouse: Mark Largey


It is now the beginning of May and I have a couple months left of my stay here in New Zealand on Grown Farm. We are well into autumn, a time back at home in Massachusetts when things really start to slow down, but here, it’s when things start to pick up. Here on the farm we keep things crankin. Overall, the veggie planting, growth, and harvesting has been a fun experience but nothing overly new for me. But, witnessing the economics of how a small veggie farm works has been very interesting for me. More than before, I have learned to appreciate how influential the weather can be for the weekly profit. If we have horrible weather during the week, it slows down our harvest and if we have bad weather on the weekend, then nobody comes out to buy their veggies at the market.

Despite a horrendous spell of rain during the past two weeks, the climate has been cooperative for growing the winter crops since it has stayed above freezing and we can keep planting and growing. Recently, we have planted: lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, leeks, and celery. We recently had a very successful harvest of strawberries prior to this rain spell, but since the next couple of harvests have been stunted by the rain, we opted to move a large portion of our hydroponic strawberry plants into a railing system we built in the greenhouse. This allows for further production during the winter and makes space for even more strawberries out in the paddock!

four wheel

Since we do not need all of our paddocks to grow what we need for our weekend markets, we have taken on a couple contracts to grow lettuce for other growers. We have planted just about 83,000 lettuce plants, so things are pretty tight for space around the farm! Between the lettuce plants and all of our own winter crops still growing, there is not much work out in the paddocks to be done besides keeping the weeds at bay and irrigating when necessary. To keep ourselves busy we will be cutting wood, cleaning greenhouses, and tidying up the sheds and work areas. There are also plans of adding two new bays to our greenhouses, so this will be an invaluable learning opportunity for a veggie farm worker like me.

field work

Aside from life on the farm, New Zealand has been very exciting to explore during the summer months. I spent the Christmas holidays up in Kaikora and was taken aback by the wonderful beaches and picturesque sunsets. I also took a week off from work to go on a road trip down to Queenstown and Milford Sound. Although I really needed much more than a week to take everything in, I had a fantastic time enjoying the vibrant city life in Q-town and the majestic scenery down in Milford. The best part for me, though, was cruising the roads and seeing a few sites like the Lindus Pass and The Remarkables, to name just a couple.

Now I am looking forward to working out the winter here in New Zealand. I am still not quite certain when I will be traveling home. I have a good job and family that I wish to go home to, but I would like to stay here partly because I really enjoy the farm life and traveling around New Zealand. I am looking forward to putting together a greenhouse and traveling up to Nelson, the west coast, and Mt. Cook!


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