In 1993 Jeanette purchased land out in Waiuku. Pam joined her in 2003 and a year later Scarborough Fare was established as a privately owned horticulture unit. With the help of their exceptional team, they now have nearly 3 hectares of lush, piquant garden, mostly in hydroponic growing systems, producing nearly 70 tonnes of premium grade fresh culinary herbs every year.
They specialise in growing basil, mint, lemongrass, chives, oregano, Italian parsley, thyme, Vietnamese mint, dill, chervil, bay leaves, French tarragon, rosemary, and sage. Like all fresh produce, herbs have a seasonality to them. Although most will grow year-round, in the cooler months, with low light levels, growing times are drawn out. The heat lovers, or very day length sensitive, will not perform at all during winter. Mother nature knows best though as the seasonal dishes that herbs make extra special are usually those that grow well in that season. For example, basil grows very well in the warmer months and is perect for making pesto, dips and salads. Whereas sage, thyme and rosemary grow well in the winter time and are perfect for casseroles, slow cookers, and bakes. That is why using herbs in season is so special.
Scarborough Fare places huge importance on sustainable growing and are continually finding ways to innovate and improve their operations. The installation of a large solar system has done two key things for them. The first is allowing them to physically action their sustainable ethos in a way that customers can get behind. Knowing that the herbs you buy are not only grown by sunlight, but the systems that support their growing are run on the same sunlight – this is real time sustainability! The second is the energy savings. Hydroponic systems as large as Scarborough Fares demand a lot of pumping power to operate. Needless to say, they’re enjoying the savings and after the initial pay-off period, the savings can be re-invested in cutting edge growing technology. It’s a win-win.
Beyond the sun, Scarborough Fare’s next biggest recycling effort is in the use of their next biggest resource – water. They have storage for water from the sky amounting to 600,000 litres! When they have used all their stored water, they take water from the ground. Wherever it comes from however, their use of water is a carefully managed project. With the controls that their growing technologies provide, together with the use of biofilters, beneficial bacteria and fungi and weekly testing, they are reusing, reusing, and reusing their water.
Pests and disease risk management is a big issue for any grower. Scarbrough Fare consider themselves very lucky to be growers of the 21st Century with access to solutions designed by companies and individuals within the very innovative and proactive industry that Horticulture is. Isolation annexes, insect mesh, biological armies made up of literally millions of voracious eaters and predatory insects are all means by which they target the enemy. All without risk to you!
Jeanette and Pam love to cook and having fresh herbs in the backyard comes in very handy. They love the unique flavours of chervil and French tarragon, the freshness of mint and basically everything else because fresh herbs turn ordinary dishes into masterpieces!