Joe and Sally Loffler lease a sheep and Beef farm from Joe’s parents 40 minutes west of Gisborne City. Whilst pregnant with their first child, Sally’s parents encouraged the pair to diversify their operation and facilitated the sourcing and growing of Asparagus crowns. The patch started out as 0.8ha and has since increased to 1.5ha.
The Asparagus crowns were sourced from Aspara Pacific Ltd Canterbury run by Dr Peter Falloon who is famed with his in-depth knowledge of Asparagus. The variety is pacific 2000 which is a beautiful hardy sweet spear that is a vigorous grower.
The Asparagus season runs from late September through until mid-November, weather dependent and must fit around a very busy time on the farm with lambing and calving in full swing. Sally and Joe, along with the help of seasonal young foreign travellers who want a different life experience, pick, grade and bunch the asparagus daily ready for sale. Asparagus harvested later in the week is chilled and stored for market and asparagus picked and bunched earlier in the week is sold though a local dairy (Makaraka Store).
As well as providing diversification to their farming operation, the Asparagus season adds another more sociable aspect to the somewhat farm-based lifestyle Joe, Sally and their young family lead. It is an absolute highlight of their year providing fresh, locally grown seasonal goodness to the loyal Gisborne Farmers market customers.
“We simply love providing Gisborne with fresh asparagus and interacting with our customers”