Motueka’s organic ‘salad bowl’ orchard for sale

5:00 AM Saturday April 30, 2016 True Commercial

The packing shed at Walnut Farm is BroGro certified and BRC compliant.

One of Motueka’s most productive orchards, colloquially dubbed “Then Salad Bowl” for its dual-crop plantings, has been placed on the market for sale.

Walnut Farm — which ironically doesn’t produce walnuts — is a 26.3 ha BioGro certified plantation, producing organic green kiwifruit and pears.

The farm at College St, Motueka, is split into seven individual landholding titles, and is being marketed for sale by Bayleys Motueka with a $2.1 million price tag.

Bayleys Motueka salesperson Leeon Johnston said production as diversified as this was rare in the area.

The farm features a combined kiwifruit canopy of 13 ha, while the pear orchard encompasses a total of 6000 trees — varying in age from four to 12 years old.

Four of the blocks are freehold, while the remaining three plots are operated under long-term leasehold contracts.

The current owner also leases an additional 3ha of organic kiwifruit and 5.5ha of pears.

The blocks have water extraction consents under the Tasman Resources Management Plan through to 2030  for irrigation and frost protection.

Walnut Farm has multiple operation certifications — including BioGro, Global Gap, Tesco and BRC.

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The pear orchard encompasses a total of 6000 trees. 

Over the past five years the average harvest produced 66,000 trays of organic kiwifruit and 4500 cartons of pears.

Johnston said that with Walnut Farm effectively combining seven titles under one umbrella, the unit could potentially be bought by a horticultural syndicate — with some parties opting to secure the kiwifruit blocks, and other syndication members buying up the pear-producing orchard.

Organic crops — such as those harvested at Walnut Farm — produced a higher dollar-yielding return than the fruit from “mainstream “orchards.

“Walnut Farm’s kiwifruit crop is produced under contract to Zespri, while the pear crop is produced under contract to Enza. Those contracts are able to be transferred over to any new owner, and can deliver some certainty to production revenues for the coming season at least,” Johnston said.

“The North American market is the biggest single consumer of the Zespri organic green kiwifruit variety produced at Walnut Farm.

Some 40 per cent of New Zealand’s crop heads there, and Walnut Farm is one of 300 New Zealand organic kiwifruit growers supplying the market.

“By comparison there are some 2556 kiwifruit producers across the entire New Zealand market. The premium nature of Zespri organic green kiwifruit ensures it achieves higher prices when sold internationally.”

Kiwifruit is New Zealand’s largest single horticultural export by volume and value. The Bay of Plenty province produces approximately 79 per cent of New Zealand’s kiwifruit.

In 2014, the crop generated some $930 million worth of export revenues — a vast improvement in fortunes from the previous few years when the PSA ravaged crops.

“Meanwhile, the Tasman region surrounding Walnut Farm is Enza’s primary production base for pears; some orchards in the area now in their fifth-generation of owners.

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The farm features a combined kiwifruit canopy of 13 ha. 

Walnut Farm produces the concord, Taylors Gold and Comice varieties of pear,” Mr Johnston said.

The property is spread across King Edward, College, and Chamberlain streets on Motueka’s fringe, with four residential dwellings featuring:

• a main three-bedroom dwelling with in-ground swimming pool and spa;

• an early 1900s-style three-bedroom cottage currently rented for $200 per week;

• a two-bedroom cottage rented periodically or used as a worker’s accommodation; during the vine trimming and fruit picking seasons, and

• a one-bedroom cottage adjoining the packing shed.

The farm building infrastructure includes a commercial grade packing shed which is BroGro certified and BRC compliant. The grader is a four-lane Lynx with 14 drops plus a large concrete covered storage area and a small coolstore.

Johnston said a full history of fertiliser application across the farm had been meticulously documented.