When most people think of a New Zealand lifestyle block, they might imagine a few beef cattle, maybe a sheep or two and a couple of chickens. But can you still makei money if you want to go beyond protein, and branch out into horticulture?
Pat Tetley says anyone who is thinking about it should know they will need to put some work in.
But while visiting him and wife Sue on their now two-hectare lifestyle block in Waiau Pa, Auckland, I realise they both see weekend “work” as a hobby.
The two have a productive avocado orchard and harvest for Avoco, an avocado marketing company, every year. Tetley and a group of friends brew beer. He and other growers in the area also participate in developing improved cropping through the study of application of soil science.
Sue Tetley puts her hand to beekeeping, also studies regenerative agriculture practices, has a lush vegetable garden and writes and illustrates children’s books from her studio on the property.
In 2001 the Tetleys, who were both teachers at the time, were looking for a property that had to meet certain requirements.
It had to have enough land, so they could develop a garden, and they wanted to make some sort of income from a crop.
They realised that they could either buy a nice house on a small plot of land, or buy a larger parcel of land with a house that needed a lot of tidying up. They decided on the latter.
Avocado trees cost $12 when the Tetleys planted them.
“We bought 5.9 hectares. The property was a little run down with fences needing repair. There were already good shelter belts (shelter belts create a microclimate). We pruned the shelter belts, put up electric fencing and bought 12 head of cattle. Cattle was a good first step. We had them to manage our grass, but when they fattened we sold them. We didn’t like sending them to slaughter, but we did it for three years while we decided what we could grow on the property,” Pat says.
Sue had begun investigating possible crops to grow, but some like tamarillos or persimmons, presented some challenges. There …….