In the News

Spring bounty: It’s harvest time and Daniela Krumm has plenty of macadamias to use for Mac Snack spreads, chocolate bars and packets of nuts.

Story by Virginia Winder
Years before the new organic movement gripped New Zealand, macadamia grower Chris Jury decided to turn his back on chemicals.
“Through physical health reasons I began to change from the conventional system to the organic system,” Chris says.
“I like to think that the land health has improved along with my own.”
The natural transformation began 35 years ago and the north Taranaki macadamia farm has been BioGro certified since 1995.
Wife Daniela Krumm says the 48.5-hectare farm has about 2000 large trees and 1000 smaller ones at different stages.
“Chris’ father (Felix) was the first person to bring macadamias into New Zealand from California and Hawaii,” she says.
Felix began importing macadamia plants in 1975 and established the orchard, called Greenacres, in 1978.
This week, visitors to the region can pop in to see the garden and farm on Otaraoaroa Rd, which is open for the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival until Sunday (subs, Nov 6).
Listed as Macadamia Park View in the festival guide, the property shares a driveway with the Jury Garden, which is now open for the Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular.
Having an organic farm is hard yakka, so wwoofers (willing workers on organic farms) are welcome, especially during the spring harvest season.
On average, there are about six wwoofers staying during the nut harvest and two new recruits arrive during the interview.
“We usually harvest in September, October and November, but this year we are raking,” Daniela says.
Blame the snow that fell over Taranaki in mid-August, which has caused the nuts to drop instead of hang on.
One of the ways the trees are protected is through natural growth. “We don’t prune them. Normally orchards do, but we have a fairly cold climate here.”
Nut growers often trim their trees to open them up, like apple trees. That also exposes them to frost.
But on the Tikorangi farm the cold only does a little damage to the outside of the trees because the inner growth is kept safe from frosts – and snow.
The trees themselves are well spaced out and planted on north-facing slopes for sun exposure.
Beneath the macadamias are about 700 sheep, which help keep the grass short, trim the lower branches of trees and fertilise the land with their droppings.
If you stand by the main house and look over the farm, it looks like a park. People even ask Daniela if she mows all those lawns, but for this she can definitely thank the woolly inhabitants.
In summer, the farm also becomes grazing land for organic dairy cows.
But when it comes to pesky plants, especially thistles, it’s human labour that works wonders. “The weed control is mostly done manually, instead of with chemicals. It’s very physical,” she says.
“It does keep you pretty fit,” Chris adds. “But we also use an organically certified approved spray on the Californian thistles.”
The farm also keeps them in pocket and in food.
“We are trying to be self-sufficient,” Daniela says.
“We grow all our own fruit and vegetables, meat and produce all our own eggs. If it’s not in the garden, it’s not on the table pretty much. It’s very seasonal.”
The home veggie patch is packed with goodies, but in winter Daniela relies on ever-growing spinach that looks like a small tree and a hedge of Italian parsley she steams, uses in sauces and salads, or turns into pesto.
For meat, there are sheep, turkeys, chickens and ducks. “And a couple of goats for the pats and then the freezer,” she says.
Daughter Cassia (6), loves the animals when they are babies, but then they grow up become food.
It may sound mercenary, but this is a farm and the animals aren’t pets for long.
However, not in danger of being eaten are the horses Daniela loves to ride and uses to shift the sheep.
The 40-something woman grew up in southern Germany and always dreamed of having a garden, land and horses.
In her 20s, she travelled the world and ended up at a party in Auckland where she met her future husband.
“It was not love at first sight,” Chris says. “We did not actually like each other in the beginning, but we had a lot in common and a relationship developed.”
They have now been married 15 years.
Sitting in their warm home, a baby turkey drying out in a basket and squeak-squawking like discordant background music, Daniela admits she is living her childhood dream.
“It’s made my family terribly unhappy being on the other end of the world and with the only grandchild in New Zealand,” she says.
This is no holiday Down Under though.
Daniela’s day begins by feeding a household of wwoofers and then the animals.
Next she takes Cassia to school, returns home to toil alongside the willing workers and then she cooks everyone lunch.
Afterwards, she works in her garden, picks Cassia up from school and spends the rest of the afternoon with her. “She loves mucking around in the garden, finding stuff and digging. I think there would be a huge thing missing in a child’s life if they couldn’t muck around in a garden. It’s natural creativity and curiosity.”
In the evenings, Daniela heads out into the factory where she makes the Mac Snacks range of chocolate bars, four different types of spread (chocolate, honey, roasted and natural) and the packs of nuts.
She started the factory eight years ago when the trees started to produce a good amount of nuts. “If you sell them as a whole nut, you can’t make a living off it. You have to think of a way to turn your nut into a high-quality product and being an organic nut, we have got a niche market anyway.”
It takes three years to become BioGro certified and then the orchard and factory is audited every year.
“First of all you have to have a perfect recording of everything that comes into your farm or the factory and prove it’s allowed under the BioGro system,” she says.
The couple has to do soil and water tests, stock takes of all the products used in the factory and have an approved farm management programme.
“It’s a huge commitment,” Daniela says.
The big thing for her is that everything on the property stays on the land and is used.
Even the macadamia shells and detritus become mulch, which she scatters on gardens and pathways, so they crunch underfoot like pebbles.
For Daniela, this haven not only needs to work well, it needs to look great.
“If you work in a place, you still have to be able to see the joy and the beauty. You can’t lose sight of that otherwise you are not going to enjoy it anymore.”

  • First published in the Taranaki Daily News