Supporting local food outlets is not just about dining at cafés and restaurants. Small-scale food producers, including those with home operations who sell at the farm gate or in markets, are passionate about cutting down those food miles and providing locally grown produce. Hibiscus Matters met some of the Hibiscus Coast’s artisan producers.
An 8ha property in rural Upper Waiwera is home to Ibbee’s honey. The Ibbett family – Glenn, his wife Anne-Marie and sister Julia (and mum and dad in Waitoki) – has been harvesting honey since they got their first hive around eight years ago. Their hobby grew into a business, especially once they invested in an extractor unit and began extracting and packing honey for other small honey producers. Glen says the number of beekeepers in Auckland has grown steadily – some have only a few hives, others have hundreds. The Ibbett’s own honey is a multifloral that comes from hives spread out in the countryside from Matakana to Coatesville. They sell their creamed and raw honey at local markets as well as online at ibbees.co.nz
A background in science and a desire to improve gut health led Verity Tarrant to research fermented food and drink products. She started her business two years ago and things such as kombucha, water kefir and sauerkraut, fermented using traditional techniques, have become an essential part of Verity and her family’s daily diet. They are all made in her (registered, lab tested and audited) home kitchen in Orewa. Verity adds “extra goodies” such as herbs, extra probiotics and collagen, giving her a point of difference. She believes in the health benefits that these products have but says they also must be delicious, affordable and environmentally sustainable. She sells at Orewa Beach Farmers Market and takes all bottles and jars back for re-use.
An egg business, hatched five years ago by husband and wife Dean and Deonne Olliff, has taken off. To produce eggs reminiscent of the ones from backyard hens, the couple allow their chickens to forage all day, every day, on the fresh green pasture of their Wainui property. Moveable coops allow flocks of 400 birds per hectare to be shifted onto fresh pasture every few days. Deonne says Olliff Farms pioneered this style of farming in New Zealand and has won a number of accolades. The eggs are sought after by Auckland cafés and restaurants and are also sold direct from the farm or ollifffarm.co.nz
Jimmy’s Craft Foods
Trained as a chef in the NZ Navy, James Lissiman travelled the world, working on super yachts and cooking for the rich and famous who, he says, are very particular about good quality food. Eighteen months ago he began making his own range of plant based sauces from his commercial kitchen in Stanmore Bay. There are 12 sauces in the range and James prides himself on healthy ingredients with none of the additives that appear in many commercially made sauces. As well as launching a new summer sauce series, James hopes to work with Otago University on a range of plant foods, such as probiotics. James sells his sauces at Matakana market and online, jimmysfoods.com
Paul and his wife Jelena started growing microgreens (the young seedlings of vegetables and herbs) around a year ago on their block of land in Matakatia. It was a hobby at first – the couple had just finished building their home and Jelena came up with the idea of repurposing the garage into a dedicated growing space for the plants. Some leftover scaffolding was converted into growing racks. Soon their passion for locally grown, fresh food took over and the pair began sharing their microgreens with the community at markets in Silverdale and Orewa. “We’ve witnessed an increasing number of people who want not only a local connection with their food, but also to know its history,” they say. Microgreens take between 7-12 days to grow. Paul and Jelena grow a number of spray-free varieties every week, including sunflower, radishes and pea shoots. Paul says the young plants are high in nutrients as well as tasting great.
The question people often ask about this speciality cheese maker is – ‘is Massimo actually a person?’ The answer is yes, he is. When Massimo Lubisco and his wife Marina came to NZ on holiday from Italy, they were impressed by the high quality dairy available but surprised by the lack of fresh mozzarella. After a cheese making apprenticeship in Italy, they returned and began making fresh Italian-style cheeses such as mozzarella, bocconcini, burrata and ricotta. Based in Dairy Flat, Massimo’s launched in 2012 and won 10 awards at this year’s NZ Cheese Awards. Their cheese can be found in a wide range of retail stores and they also collaborate with top restaurants and pizzerias.
Markets were the start for a number of local producers whose products now feature in stores around the country and overseas. These include:
Something to Crow About started out selling seed toppers at the Dunedin markets. Five years ago Mike and Chris Millar purchased the small business and moved it north to Whangaparāoa, launching a range of premium mueslis into supermarkets nationwide. This part of the business has grown and their products now rank among the top 10 breakfast brands in NZ.
Forty Thieves began when Brent and Shyr Godfrey came home after a year of backpacking around the world with the desire to start a business. A passion for healthy food and fitness, led to developing a range of natural nut butters that could fuel their adventure-packed lifestyles. They started selling at local farmers markets and independent stores and their growing product range, made in Silverdale, is now available nationwide as well as in the USA, China, Taiwan and Singapore.