In this series you'll get to know our fabulous stallholders from a more personal side - this is their story told by the stallholders themselves.
Broadfield Green Lettuce & Herb Farm has been with us from the get-go and we are very pleased to count them amongst our longstanding stall holders. Broadfield Green Lettuce & Herb Farm offer freshly grown lettuce heads, salad mixes and herbs.
Story: who are you, where are you based, how did you get into it/ why did you start your business "We are a family run, hydroponic lettuce and herb farm, based in Broadfield (around 8km out of Christchurch near Lincoln). Blair and I (Monica) started the business after returning home from living overseas for a few years to start a family. We made the decision we wanted to work for ourselves while our children were young and the farm provided the perfect environment for that. We purchased an old unused tomato farm and went about converting it. The journey hasn’t been without its challenges, we’ve certainly had a few bumps in the road along the way, but we’ve been in business for nearly 11 years now supplying local restaurants, wholesalers, universities, boarding schools and a select few local supermarkets with our greens 6 days a week. We’ve been attending the Christchurch farmers market for the last 10 years, we’ve watched stalls come and go and the market change over this time, but there are still a handful of the original stallholders at the market which is awesome. Now we also have other ventures and jobs, but the farm remains and we are still supplying many of our very first customers from our early days. Many of our staff at the farm have been with us for a number of years too."
What is your point of difference in comparison to others that do the same? "We don’t claim to be anything we’re not. We are not a certified organic farm, due to operating through a hydroponic system, however we are NZ GAP certified and spray free and stand behind the quality and integrity of our product, knowing exactly what has gone into growing it. We have remained very close to our customers over the years and the proof of this is in the fact that many of them have been with us for over 10 years now, they know us by name and they know our story, that’s pretty special to us. Our focus has always been on the family element of our business, and still after this many years, no matter what we have going on, either Blair or I make an effort to make sure we are delivering orders at least a couple of times a week to keep our faces in front our customers and provide an opportunity for them to discuss any issues or queries they may have. We’ve never been interested in being the biggest or most advanced farm around, but this has enabled us to maintain our business morals and ethos behind what we do. All our orders that are dispatched daily, have been harvested and processed that very morning (it’s an early start around here!). We do not keep processed stock on hand to fulfil orders. You can’t get any fresher than that.
What's your favourite thing about being a grower and why? "Being a grower is tough, without a doubt. You are at the mercy of so many elements and challenges and curve balls are thrown at you constantly. You have to be committed and able to adapt quickly. But for us the lifestyle it provides for our family, makes it worth it. Our kids have grown up with plenty of land and room to run around and a good understanding of work ethic and the effort involved with running a business like this. They also have a good understanding of the garden to table initiative which is hugely important in our eyes. The fact they can grab a bucket and head outside to go and gather the greens for dinner on any given night is pretty cool too. There aren’t many young kids who would know the difference between Italian Parsley and Chervil!
It also makes you pretty proud when you see your branding in the local supermarket produce shelves. That never gets old and is always a good reminder of how far we have come over the past 10 years."
What do you like about trading at a market and maybe, in particular, is there anything that you like in particular about trading at our market? "The farmers market is a very small element of our business commercially, but a huge part of who we are as a farm. Our customers are the best! Many of our farmers market regulars have known us for a long time now, watched our family grow over the years (our eldest was only 3 months old when we started and now we have 4 children!). Some have even knitted us beautiful baby gifts when we had a new baby. Others called and checked on us after the earthquakes. How lovely is that? Our market stall is more often than not manned by a member of our family who also understands the growing process and how our farm operates, be it Blair or myself, my Mum Rose, my nephew Josh and now as our kids have got older they are often down there helping out too. Although I’m pretty sure they just go for their weekly dose of posh porridge!
We love being able to provide people with fresh, locally grown salad greens, that haven’t been pumped full of preservative gases and with no nasties added. We figure if we would be happy for our kids to consume it, then we’re happy to sell it to our customers."
Anything else that might be of interest to a reader? "Blair is a trained chef and Monica has a commerce degree, it’s the perfect combination for our particular business. Blair has a good understanding of what our chefs need and how they operate and Monica is able to keep the back end of everything chugging along! We’re a good team….with 4 little helpers in the wings!"