The Bigger, Better, Vegetable Garden
If you have either visited River Valley in recent years, or been following us online, you will know that a strong part of our ethic is attempting to be a regenerative business. A business that has a primary aim to benefit the land, nature, local community, family, staff and our customers through regenerative practices.
What we eat (though I personally do have a weakness for a good pie when I go to town), and serve our guests is an important part of how we view and seek to interact with the natural world.
With this in mind, we concentrate in the gardens on creating healthy soil. Healthy soils mean healthy food and healthy natural systems.
Several years ago, we started growing fresh produce for the Lodge on a small scale. Back then this was primarily growing organic salad vegetables that our chefs could pick fresh for lunch each day. Every year since, the vegetable garden has increased in size and in the variety of produce that we grow.
Our growing season here at Pukeokahu, east of the central North Island town of Taihape, is short. We live at a reasonable altitude for New Zealand, with the main garden being 485m above sea level. This presents a few challenges with seasonality and the dangers of late or early frosts. However, this is just one of those challenges that we must allow for, with what we get at the end being more than worth it.
The other challenge is having the plants mature at the right time to meet the summer flow of visitors. There is no point in having hundreds of lettuce plants ready to be picked and no customers to eat them.
The original ‘pick and pluck’ vegetable garden
The second vegetable garden during summer last year
New plantings in the vegetable garden
The new vegetable garden extension
What Is In The Ground So Far? (Mid-October)
Over the last few weeks we have been steadily planting beds with a medley of main crop and salad vegetables. These include:
- A variety of lettuce plants
- Spring Onions
- Elephant garlic
- Red and white onions
- Broad Beans
- A variety of herbs including dill and parsley
Yet to plant are cauliflowers, carrots, corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, basil, more peas, beans, more lettuce, fennel, red cabbages, more beetroot, zucchini, chilli and kohl rabi. Many of these plants are presently in our propagation green house getting big enough to plant out.
Is It Worth It?
Does growing as much of our own produce as possible require more work and planning than buying from the Supermarket?
Undoubtably it does.
Do we save any money by growing these wonderful fresh nutrient dense vegetables?
Probably not once labour is costed in.
Are we meeting our purpose of being a regenerative company that benefits our family, staff, customers and nature by organically growing healthy fresh vegetables?