Southern Clean hydroponics places Waikato on the map

The past 20 yrs have been a occupied time for the Dunn loved ones. What began as a household reduce-flower operation close to Cambridge in the Waikato has blossomed into one of New Zealand’s primary suppliers and processors of child veggies, refreshing herbs and gourmand salad greens. 

Owned by Pat Dunn and his son Jeremy, Southern Fresh new started out as an outdoor developing procedure and recently transitioned to indoor growing in just one of the largest glasshouse operations in the Waikato – with solutions to expand.

The family’s expanding operation has often had the advantage of its rising spot currently being dependent on the very productive Horotiu sandy loam – some of New Zealand’s most effective horticultural soil. Nevertheless, a number of consecutive winters of moist weather led to the choice to go indoors.

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Brock (remaining) and Greg Dunn, father and son, examining the developing progress of trio lettuces. 

”The 2017–18 seasons afflicted our potential to source,” says Jeremy, general manager of Southern Fresh. “We looked at our solutions and tried using developing in other areas but concluded that we required to place a roof over a major aspect of our manufacturing. Then we would not be subject matter to the vagaries of the temperature. That was the only way we could get reliable source for our consumers. We now have seven hectares beneath address.”

Key crops in the indoor farm include pak choy, herbs and lettuce. Indoor cropping supervisor, Greg Dunn, oversees manufacturing.

New glasshouse 
Outside, the Dunns grow a vary of industry crops across their 6 farm blocks (229ha), which include baby spinach, mesclun, wild rocket, baby carrots, beetroot, turnips, leeks and fresh new basil.

Out of doors increasing is managed by Carl Hodgson. A Kiwi, also initially from Cambridge, who delivers working experience in horticulture from Queensland wherever he experienced been involved in rising lots of of the same crops. Brock Dunn, gross sales and advertising and marketing supervisor, states Carl’s exceptional working experience adds to their combined awareness.

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Southern Contemporary outdoor rising manager, Carl Hodgson, incpecting basil

The 2020 lockdowns interrupted first ideas to convey in global industry experts to assistance the construction of the new 20,000 sqm glasshouse. Alternatively, the Dunns turned to nearby firms and had the entire venture consented and developed in 12 months.

”We ended up committed in early 2019 and began the foundations in November with corporations thanks to appear from abroad and put in the boiler and piping from Europe and Asia,” states Jeremy. “But Covid hit us, so we identified the proper individuals locally and obtained stuck in and did it ourselves.”

The Ministry for Key Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food items and Fibre Futures Fund (SFFF), has allowed Southern Contemporary to trial new technologies and alternate methods to make the farm more sustainable, which includes the set up of LED (gentle-emitting diode) lighting and the use of CO2 from its pure gasoline heating system to raise plant expansion. Water will come from bores and rainwater collected and saved from the facility’s two-hectare roof.

Southern Fresh new now has a person of the couple of automatic hydroponic operations in New Zealand. ”We have innovated and embraced contemporary engineering which has improved our provider guarantee to our shoppers,” Jeremy suggests. “We have created New Zealand’s 1st automatic hydroponic technique and grow the only Trio lettuce in our place.”

Zhidao Chang unloading freshly picked parsley for transfer to the neat retail outlet

”The distinction between indoor and out of doors is that inside we can develop crops for 52 months of the yr with pretty tiny alter to the size of expansion period,” Greg says. “Outdoors, it can be 15-7 days cycles with probable losses due to the ecosystem, vs . 3 to 4 months indoors. Yearly output from a single-hectare of hydroponics equates to the generate from 40-ha outdoor, which is a considerable enhance in crop generate.”

Cuisine heroes
Brock suggests fresh new veggies have come to be the ‘cuisine heroes’ and central focus on the plate exactly where in previous times they experienced simply just been relegated to the edges. Infant spinach, at a single time normally disregarded, has grow to be a top-advertising line.

”Our tactic to growing is front to again – we imagine that what we expand on our farms should really be identified by what you want on your fork.”

The expanding sophistication of the Kiwi culinary industry has been a driver powering product or service growth. Hundreds of tonnes of fresh new basil, developed indoors and outside, is processed and utilized in the production of meals merchandise by other enterprises.

Southern Clean regards usefulness of use and meals-protection of its clean products and solutions as large priorities. In their point out-of-the-art packing facility the fresh little one greens and gourmet salad greens are washed and geared up to a standard where they can be utilized and eaten right from the packaging.

Recognizing a gap in the sector, Southern Fresh began airfreighting 2 times weekly to major-close foodstuff service companies in the United Kingdom and now export to Taiwan and Singapore as well. In the domestic house, deliver from Southern Refreshing indoor and area crops in Cambridge are harvested, washed, chilled, packed and air freighted all around New Zealand – from Mangere to as significantly south as Queenstown – and all in just 24 several hours.  While Southern Fresh does not offer instantly with dining establishments, it provides foodservice businesses and specialist retail markets this kind of as Moore Wilson’s, Farro, and much more recently, Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs.

Having a spouse and children solution to its staffing, Southern Clean employs 120 total-time personnel, rising to 160 workers at peak period which include employees from more than a dozen nationalities. An ownership state of mind and pursuit of excellence are ingrained in their tradition and is obvious in their day-to-day operations.

”We have fantastic relationships with other growers close to New Zealand and in the Uk and Europe. We are frequently in get in touch with with them to go over international tendencies as nicely as everything from harvesting to seed suppliers, packaging, and labour.”

Meanwhile, the Dunns have their eyes on the potential and have not long ago acquired useful resource consent to construct a even more 4 hectares of coated rising location.  


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