A few of weeks back, we paid a visit to Orchardist Mike Darling, at Moorpark & Mulberry in Mt Pisa.
It was a quintessential Central Otago afternoon. The sun was beating down, the grass crisp and dry underfoot.
The kids and I picked fruit straight from the tree – perfectly ripe and warmed by the sun. Mike led us through groves of Black Boy peaches, Doris plums, Lapin cherries, Springcrest peaches and Orange Red apricots. We inspected the hives where orchard bees were at work producing Moorpark & Mulberry’s very own honey; and we poked our noses into the impressive greenhouse where all manner of tomatoes grow alongside cucumbers and courgettes.
Mike and Helen started supplying us with produce grown on the property not long after we took over the store, at the beginning of 2017. What excited us most about M&M’s product was an intense taste of nostalgia. The fruit tasted like it did 30 years ago, hanging off a tree on a hot sunny day somewhere in Central Otago.
We knew that by stocking this fruit instore – we were saving our customers a long drive to the farm-gate stalls of Cromwell and Roxburgh. We were also securing a flow of first class seasonal stone fruit and vegetable varieties for service at our restaurant upstairs.
Roxburgh born and bred Mike and his wife Helen, bought and started redeveloping the 10 hectare property in 2012, continuing a family tradition of fruit growing in the region. Importantly for us (our customers and our local environment), Mike is passionate about maintaining a sustainable, and diverse property; across species and variety. Old fashioned heirloom crops grow alongside newer varieties, and small clusters of stone fruit are right next-door to apples and pears. The next big tick for us – was that courgettes, tomatoes and potatoes are grown entirely spray free.
It was a pleasure to stock such a successful harvest this past summer, particularly given last season’s impossible frosts that effected so many local growers – including Moorpark & Mulberry. Now that the stone fruit season has reached an end, our customers can look forward to the supply of apples and pears from Mike throughout autumn and into the winter months.