OUR GROWERS | Pitango

OUR GROWERS

We’re proud that the fresh vegetables and meat we serve up in Pitango’s soups and meals are sourced locally from small farmers and growers in our native New Zealand.  In this way we help support the farmers and growers who produce such high quality vegetables and meat using environmentally-friendly methods. 

We love working with our farmers and growers, many of whom we have been in partnership with for up to 15 years.

Check out some of our farmers and growers below.


LAWSON’S TRUE EARTH

Lawson’s True Earth have been involved with Pitango since its inception over 15 years ago.  They were the original supplier of carrots, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, leeks and blueberries.  They now supply over 175 tonnes of carrots, pumpkin and potatoes annually.

Scott Lawson and partner Vicki Meech are committed to growing quality Bio-Gro certified organic berryfruit and vegetables, on the outskirts of Hastings in Hawkes Bay. They are currently one of the larger producers of certified organic berry fruit and vegetables in New Zealand, farming 80 hectares.  Pioneers in their field, they started as a one man band in 1992 and became certified organic in 1994.

The Pitango carrots they grow are a selection of varieties that are chosen for the best flavour and quality for the time of year that Pitango needs it.  An example is the variety Miami, which costs the Lawson’s more to grow, and Pitango more to buy, but it comes out tops in the taste test, which is why they grow it and why we love using it in our soup!


WHITFIELDS

Kaakaakariki Organics (Whitfields) have been supplying Pitango for ten years with organic pumpkin carrots and potatoes.

At the start, they supplied around 50 tonnes of both pumpkin and potatoes each season. Over the years, quantities have increased significantly due to high demand for Pitango. They now supply over 250 tonnes of pumpkin, potatoes and carrots each season.

 Kaakaariki Organics (Brad and Dave Whitfield) is a father and son run farm. They have about 60 hectares of certified crop land based in Hastings, New Zealand.

The organic crops they specialise in are Potatoes, Buttercup Squash, Crown pumpkin, Supermarket squash, Butternut, carrots and Sweetcorn / Maize.

They have been growing organically for over 16 years and are certified with Assure Quality. They decided to move into organics because they believed that there had to be a better and safer way to grow vegetables. They also wanted to improve the quality and structure of the land.


WILLOWMERE

Willowmere farm is based in Hororata in Canterbury and run by Kelvin Hicks. The 200 hectare farm produces a variety of different vegetable crops, sheep and cattle and is one of only two large-scale organic vegetable farms in Canterbury.

When Kelvin’s parents, John and Trish, returned from Australia in 1991 they purchased the Hororata sheep farm of Willowmere.   Kelvin, with a degree in mechanical engineering from The University of Sydney, came to New Zealand the following year “for a holiday, and stayed”.

In 1995 they converted the farm to organics and it is now a fully run organic farm.

The farm originally started with livestock, but soon diversified into crops. “We knew we had good soil types, so we were looking for opportunities to utilise those,” says Kelvin. The carrots, for example, “began with a couple of rows, now there’s eight hectares!”

Kelvin has been supplying Pitango with carrots and potatoes virtually from the beginning, for over 10 years. They started with 100kg per week and have grown to up to 8 tonnes per week. They have supplied over 150 tonnes a year of both carrot and potato. 

Willowmere is passionate about high quality produce, which Kelvin says “always sells”, and they maintain the highest quality by farming in a sustainable manner.  It’s a style of farming Kelvin enjoys and one where he sees ongoing business opportunities. . Kelvin believes great tasting, high quality produce begins with healthy soil.  ‘‘My main philosophy is to have a healthy soil, to try to keep the fertility up and to have a balance of nutrients.’’

His efforts were rewarded in 2013 when Willowmere won the Balance Farm Environment Award.