Is Pukekohe’s unique vegetable growing environment at risk as housing encroaches on the fertile slopes of Pukekohe Hill and surrounding areas?
This is one of the issues brought to the Minister of Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety and Rural Communities, Hon Damien O’Connor’s attention during his visit on Friday 13 April.
The Minister was invited by Horticulture New Zealand and Onions New Zealand to view the Pukekohe Hill area and see the “impact rapid development of housing is having on vegetable growing operations”, meet with local vegetable growers, visit the Balle Bros silt traps and riparian planting projects and A.S. Wilcox and Sons’ Union Road Packhouse.
After a lunch with local vegetable growers, the Minister was taken for a drive around the Pukekohe Hill area and then went on to visit the Balle Bros farm on Calcutta Road, Pukekohe to see the Don’t Muddy the Waters research project underway there. From there he visited the Balle Bros Fulton block on Tramway Road in Puni where he met with Puni School Principal, Haydon Brill and four pupils who were involved in the riparian planting programme on the 12 and 13 April.
The recent planting forms part of the Balle Bros’ Fultons Green Initiative to “restore and enhance the Mauku Stream and surrounding environment.” Thereafter the Minister visited A.S. Wilcox and Sons Packhouse to see their post-harvest onion processes.
The whirlwind visit should leave the Minister with plenty to ponder as he considers the unique growing conditions and challenges facing the vegetable growing industry of Pukekohe and surrounding region.