Leaf Produce brings you fresh, tasty homegrown produce from our home garden in Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, since 2016.
Kerikeri is a growers’ paradise, with beautiful rich, volcanic soil – plus a commercial irrigation scheme (with water coming from irrigation lakes), so our produce has enough water all year round.
We’ve been selling our herbs, veges, and plants at The Old Packhouse Market, and sometimes at the Kerikeri farmers’ market.
Growing philosophy at Leaf Produce Kerikeri
We grow everything as naturally as we can, as we are passionate about the importance of healthy produce, healthy humans, and a healthy ecosystem. This means that we are continually trialling and experimenting with our growing methods so our plants and produce are as healthy as possible, using natural, organic practices. It’s very much a process of continual improvement, and learning to adapt to the different seasons and different weather patterns.
Most of the produce is grown from seed right here at Leaf Produce. But if we haven’t quite mastered on how to grow something from seed (some plants are mighty tricky to germinate), then we buy quality seedlings and grown them on.
Healthy, non-sellable plant matter is composted or used as mulch – we try not to waste anything, and it’s good to recycle the plant nutrients on-site.
We can’t produce enough compost for our needs, so we buy in a certified organic growing mix.
Our approach to spraying
I really wanted to grow spray-free produce when I first started Leaf Produce. But I quickly learned that pests and diseases thrive in the warm, humid environment in our particular microclimate in Kerikeri. And the bugs just LOVE my yummy salads and herbs! I lost numerous crops – and income – so although being completely spray-free is a nice idea, it just isn’t a viable business model in this part of the world.
Spraying is a last resort for us – but when we do spray, we use a certified organic spray.
Our integrated pest management plan involves:
- Physical barriers: i.e. netting to keep the bugs away as much as possible. The netting doesn’t stop the bugs completely though – they are VERY determined to eat my yummy produce!
- Companion planting: certain plants growing together will help repel some bugs.
- Crop rotation: this is an important element of keeping the soil healthy and nourished.
- Observation: I keep a close eye on all my crops, to check for early signs up bug damage.
- Manual control: Sticky traps are great for gnats, and I also spend time as needed squishing problematic bugs, such as caterpillars and slugs.
- Selective use of an organic spray: If bugs are found, only those plant beds with issues are sprayed. I use an organic spray, neem, which is derived from a tree.
Who are the people behind Leaf Produce Kerikeri?
Cornelia Luethi, owner and grower
Cornelia Luethi does all the seed sowing, planting, weeding, harvesting, and marketing.
Cornelia is new to growing – but as her family history consists of 100+ years of growers (she is a 6th generation horticulturalist), it must be in her blood!
Cornelia holds a Level 4 Certificate in Horticulture and is also Growsafe certified. (Her degree and post-graduate qualifications are for her freelance writing business.)
Grant Jenkins, helper extraordinaire! Plus Mac and Mia, the supervisors
Cornelia’s partner, Grant, helps with the harvesting, does all the heavy duty jobs, and also assists with setting up the market stall and logistics.
Mac and Mia (and formerly Minnie), our West Highland White Terriers, have the life of Riley running around the garden! Mac loves riding on the ute, and Mia’s an expert at digging up the garden beds…!
Matthias Luethi, mentor
Cornelia’s father, Matthias, had a successful horticultural business in Kent, England, where he supplied 5-star hotel and restaurants in London’s West End with his farm-grown produce, 6 days a week. (The photo shows Matthias Luethi on the front cover of the Sunday Times Magazine in 1990.)
As well as being the first commercial grower of wild rocket in England, he also grew gourmet lettuces (before they became mainstream supermarket items), herbs and baby vegetables.
Matthias helped Cornelia set up Leaf Produce’s growing operations, and used to visit for 3 months a year, helping with the day-to-day tasks, as well as improving the infrastructure and how we worked. Matthias was a popular, friendly face at our market stall and is much missed.
Rest in peace, dear dad. Leaf Produce would never have existed without you!