Compost Brew . . . New Zealand Style

February 5th, 2010 | melody | Comments Off on Compost Brew . . . New Zealand Style

After beginning day three of my NZ adventure with a rather rigorous two hour hike, we then visit with Kerry Brannigan, the producer of Portsmouth Orchards, which is one of the primary production orchards for Albert’s NZ apple program. Upon arrival, I am first shown these long rows of hot compost. (photo at right) The compost is being cooked (not to put directly onto the soil), but rather to make some kind of special tea! You can really feel how proud they are of this tea-making process. They take the compost and feed it to the worms to digest and the worms in turn make beautiful castings. (photos below)The castings are then made into a tea, constantly being stirred in these great mysterious bins. All of this produces their magical agrarian elixir of compost tea. It’s a bit of a foreign process to me, but soil science is what really puts these growers into the category of being truly amazing!

Following our compost tour, we visit the packing-house, which is appropriately named, Green Planet Packing. This is a local family owned packing facility that runs apples for many of the local growers during the season of February through June. The facility is Euro Gap and Global Gap certified. The certification process involves random sampling of each run of apples allowing the USDA pre-clearance of the fruit.

As we leave the orchard, I ask Harry Masterson (one of the family members of Green Planet Packing) if there is a place I can go to have that quintessential NZ shopping experience; as I must come back to the states with some souvenirs. He takes me to this little store in downtown Napier – and upon entering the store, I feel torn between laughter and queasiness. Everything in the store is made from Opossum – the Common Brushtail Opossum. The possum is a major agricultural and conservation pest in New Zealand. European settlers aiming to establish a wild source for food, fiber and fur pelts for clothing, introduced the opossum onto this Island Nation, and with no available predators. There are now 32 million of them running amok! But at least we know there is an effort to trap them and spin their beautiful fur into luscious sweaters, gloves and a host of other opossum accessories I had no idea that I needed!