Preparing for winter in New Zealand: Mark Largey
I have been in New Zealand for just about five months now and I am halfway done with my stay on Grown Farm. The work has ranged from easy and enjoyable to impossible and miserable, but that is the essence of working on a small, independent vegetable farm, which is why this farming experience has been so amazing. At this point, I am just one of the regular staff members: I know how to do everything, I know where everything is located, and I’m just another part of the group amongst everyone who works here. It’s been a pleasure getting to this point and the idea of leaving this farm and everyone that I work with is already starting to weigh heavy on me. But, that is not something I need to worry about for a long while.
Currently, we’re halfway into summer and much of the work has focused on battling this hot, dry weather, keeping things irrigated, and getting everything harvested for the weekends. We have also been planting large amounts of winter crops in preparation for the colder months. Currently, we are picking: corn, tomatoes, capsicums, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, sunshine squash, zucchini, garlic, onions, spring onions, beans, carrots, potatoes, and strawberries. We typically spend Mondays and Tuesdays doing odd jobs around the farm, like pruning off the strawberry runners, hoeing beds, and shifting around cattle, but as soon as Wednesday starts, we’re almost always harvesting for the weekend markets. This current time is what feels most like home with so much of the labor focused on harvests and irrigation, but it is very odd for me to know that things will not be stopping once the colder weather rolls in. Back at home in the northeast of the United States, we just focus on keeping things picked until the end of autumn, which is when the farm ceases until next spring; there is no winter preparation. Here, however, we just planted nearly one hundred trays of cauliflower for the winter, and we have a couple hundred more trays of lettuce to plant for the winter when we pick up some wholesale business on the side.
Other than the usual farming techniques and procedures, it has been an absolute pleasure to be in New Zealand during these summer months while it has been snowed out back at home in the USA. My coworkers have kept me busy with road trips to Little Akaloa and Christchurch, with parties up in Kaikora, and the occasional weekend party here in Sefton. Although it has been tough to work so much since September, it will benefit me now by putting in all of my vacation time before summer ends to visit the Queenstown and Nelson areas. Once autumn and winter arrive, I hope to use any remaining vacation time to stay in Arthur’s Pass, which has been my favorite place in New Zealand so far.