It’s cliche, but also fair to say that this harvest was a real team effort. Plenty of family and friends came together from across the region and NZ to help spend Christmas and the New Year in and around the orchard, specifically to help with the picking. Not only that, but there has been significant support from CentralPAC in that they have supported Forest Lodge Orchard and NZ0, despite the orchard currently being considered a small scale grower.
So with harvest day arriving on the 28th December 2021, family and friends were joined by the professionals at CentralPAC at the crack of dawn, who showed the process, led the way and ensured everyone was aware of harvest expectations by ensuring only the best, most suitable cherries were selected. Having said that, and true to our ethos, any excess (waste) cherries were collected and have been stored for use in other future applications. These include the potential for use in other food creations which NZ0 is currently exploring.
Given the amount of people and support involved in the harvesting of the cherries, the day was wrapped up quickly with everyone calling time around 3PM. With over 1200KG of red cherries and 200KG of Rainier cherries picked, this left us with about half the orchard left to harvest.
After some collating and counting of the produce using our zero fossil fuel orchard vehicles, they were packed into crates, ready for delivery to the pack house for sorting, packing and distribution to Auckland.
Interestingly enough and reflecting community interest in our process, during the build up to harvest we had received an enquiry from Johnny, a fellow climate conscious person based out of Dunedin who runs his own carbon conscious company Born Electric Kiwi and was interested in helping out. As an avid climate conscious individual, and owner of a Tesla he volunteered to drive up to Central Otago in his Tesla and transport the cherries from our orchard to the pack house to further reduce the amount of emissions used in the logistics aspect of the process. A welcome involvement from the community, and great to have had his support in helping reduce our carbon footprint even further.
With the remainder of the cherries picked on the last day of 2021, we are beyond excited to have gotten our produce off the trees and into stores well before what would normally be considered industry and financially viable. This is in large part due to the grant we received from AGMARDT for our pilot program, but also as mentioned, from the wider community support we have received throughout the whole process. To everyone, we extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation for all their help and support.
Onwards and upwards!