We explore some of Cromwell’s extraordinary gardens. A world of abundance at Sharon and Pete’s Cherry Tree Farm.
Many locals will know Sharon and Pete Brass from their stall at the Cromwell Farmers and Craft Market, but to visit their Cherry Tree Farm garden is to be amazed at the sheer size, quality and work-ethic involved.
Their website says that their small holding on Ripponvale Road is ‘bursting with abundant fruit, veggies and flowers’, and it is!
Their garden philosophy could be summed up in two words – ‘abundance’ and ‘sharing’, and Sharon says,
“Our mission is to encourage people to grow their own food, share with their neighbours, teach others and therefore build a community.”
They practice what they preach, too. Sharon says, “If a customer asks if he/she can only buy two plants from a punnet, I tell them, “I would like to gift you the punnet full, and challenge you to find friends or neighbours to share them with, and show them what to do if they are uncertain.”
They both say that ‘gardening is about abundance and joy and exercise’ and they believe in ‘the circle of reciprocity’.
“That used to be normal,” says Sharon.
Peter is an ex-policeman; Sharon a nurse. They moved with their then young children from Dunedin to Invercargill, and from there went to Evandale Plant Production, in 1985.
In 2001 they purchased bare land, dotted with blue gums, on Ripponvale Road, and went to work clearing the trees and planting cherries, while still continuing with Evandale.
By 2010, the Evandale business was sold to Allan Dippy, the cherries were established, and the flowers and vegetables were the next focus.
Sharon says, only half jokingly, “It took me a while after we were married to realise that Peter is actually part-person, part-plant.”
Besides spreading the knowledge about sustainable food production, the couple sell their fresh fruit, veggies, flowers and plants at Central Otago farmers markets.
They have recently begun a Thursday open-day at Cherry Tree Farm, to cater for people who are health-compromised or just nervous about about market crowds during Covid.
cherrytreefarm.co.nz and on Facebook