Nothing says summer more than berry picking. It’s not just the creation of beautiful childhood memories but also knowing that you’re taking home the freshest and best of the berries on offer.
We’ll be heading to Whatawhata Berry Farm on the outskirts of Hamilton. They tell us strawberries may soon be harder to find in supermarket shelves due to a shortage of pickers, so they’re gearing up for a big influx of Kiwis wanting to pick their own.
Owner Darien McFadden says there won’t be enough overseas RSE workers or those on Working Holiday Visas to pick this year’s crop.
“The situation could well make strawberries more expensive and harder to come by in the supermarket this year,” he says. “But the answer is to head straight to your local berry farm and pick them yourself. For many Kiwi families it’s become a tradition in the lead up to Christmas.”
Whatawhata Berry Farm is going the extra mile to deliver a healthy, sustainable product by reducing their environmental impact as much as possible.
“We place a big emphasis on using recyclable packaging and biodegradable Pick Your Own boxes instead of plastic ones. We also use predator insects, beneficial fungi and bacteria to promote plant health, and cultural practices such as hand-weeding and removing any rotten berries immediately to reduce agrichemical dependence.
“Everything from our biologically-activated waste-water system to our products in-store, is done with environmental best-practice in mind. Our reputation for excellence, plus all the add-ons we offer, means we’re expecting more visitors this summer than we’ve ever had before!”
McFadden says it’s hard to predict exactly how this year’s strawberry season will play out price-wise but knows people will always get value for money – and a terrific Kiwiana experience from local berry farms.
“It’s a great day out for everyone and Whatawhata Berry Farm provides a lot of entertainment and atmosphere. As well as selling premium, pre-packed and PYO strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and boysenberries, we have a fantastic space with local artwork, hammocks and enormous bean bags to sit in the sun and relax.
“Kids can take on our kiwi bird treasure hunt challenge, play with our giant chess and checkers sets and have fun in the sand pit. Of course, a visit isn’t complete without trying our famous real-fruit ice-creams. We’ve been making them for 20 years and have our own secret recipe – you can’t beat them!”