Brydone Growers Organic Farm south of Oamaru, owned and run by Marty Quennell and Cushla Brophy, is a bustling innovative market garden built on decades of organic history Their range of long lasting, vibrant, beautifully formed vegetables are sensory treats and prove the consistency that high quality organic production can achieve.
Brydone, a 23-hectare property originally part of one of Otago’s earliest farms – the 16,000-acre Totara Estate established in the 1850s – unfolded from the seed of the new organics movement of the 1940s and ’50s when Oamaru was a hub of ‘Compost Club’ enthusiasm.
Crop diversity and interplanting helps further minimise exhaustion of soil nutrients, as well as preventing the spread of pests and diseases – which are minimal, say the couple, compared to their growing experiences in the North Island. When necessary, a seaweed and fish oil spray is used against caterpillars and aphids, especially on susceptible brassicas, and planting phacelia helps keep carrot fly at bay, as does intercropping with onions. This year Marty used tethered blackbird kites to stop flocks of birds from ravaging tender silverbeet; real hawks managed the problem of hares, which showed an unfortunate predilection for young broccoli!
Intensive organic production does require labour. While a tractor-drawn grubber keeps control of weeds between rows, hand weeding and hoeing is also necessary when seedlings are small. During the intensive growing and harvesting season an extra dozen or so people supplement the core of six year-round staff. Daniel and Lucas help out too, gaining valuable experience and pocket money along the way.