The enterprising family that runs Waitaki Orchards has taken its business online and its products into South Island supermarkets.
The Watt family has owned the 32ha orchard just east of Kurow since 2003. Parents Justin and Julie raised their eight children there and all are still actively involved in it.
Administrator and harvest manager Geraldine Watt said the new developments were “quite exciting”. The family had been “tossing up” whether to establish an online shop, and the Covid-19 lockdown seemed like a good time to go ahead.
Her siblings, Ellen and Duncan, the bakery/compliance manager and general supervisor respectively, expanded their already diverse skills to create the digital business.
It sells a range of items made from the orchard’s produce by Ellen, who is a trained baker. There are fruit tarts in several flavours, fruit jams and chutneys, and frozen sorbets, cheesecakes, galettes, crumbles, streusel pies and apricot halves.
Meanwhile, the sorbets are now for sale in about 18 New World supermarkets around the South Island.
The Watts began by supplying the two Oamaru New World stores, then branched out to Dunedin, Mosgiel, Timaru and further afield.
Geraldine said the fruit harvest was smaller in quantity but of good quality this year. Sales were affected by the lockdown, when the family was unable to run its shop alongside State Highway 83 and other stalls.
The Watts usually relied on backpackers arriving to help with seasonal work, but that was also scuppered this year. However, a group of Vanuatu women who had arrived in New Zealand in February was made available through the national Recognised Seasonal Employee scheme.
“We were trying to get it for a couple of years,” Geraldine said. “We got it this year.”