By Josie Vidal, Horticulture New Zealand
Horticulture New Zealand was busy in Pukekohe at the end of October, visiting growers and attending meetings. That included catching up with fine culinary herb grower Jeanette Rae and hearing some of the Reynolds’ family history.
Onion and potato growers, the Reynolds family has had a connection with the land in Pukekohe since their great-great-grandfather William Henry Reynolds landed in New Zealand with his family from County Monaghan in Ireland, via the ship Ganges in 1865.
Peter Reynolds, who runs TA Reynolds (named after his father Tom) with his six brothers, says the business is committed to sustainability and can draw on that 150-plus years of knowledge of the area. They also have over 70 years of meticulous hand-written, record keeping diaries, which they still maintain today, outlining what was planted and harvested, what happened with the weather, how the soil has been treated, and so on.
Peter can tell from the handwriting – all tidy and legible – who has made the diary entries. The older diaries record significant life events such as, “fourth son born” (Peter); more mundane family tasks including “baby sitting”; and on the day of the big stock market crash, Monday, 19 October 1987, “started planting spuds” – no mention of the mayhem around the world.
TA Reynolds has lots of great historical records so it was no surprise Peter was the farming advisor for the Kiwi film Mt Zion, about hard working potato farmers in the 1970s.
As well as acknowledging their past, the Reynolds brothers Peter, Paul, Mick, Roger, Tim, Tony and Mark are also focused on the future and Peter Reynolds says they are always looking for new ideas.
They like to tinker with machinery to specifically suit their work and have a collection of restored old tractors and modified cultivation, spraying and irrigation machinery to get the best out of their land.
In addition to onions and potatoes, they also grow Green and SunGold kiwifruit.