Chelan Fresh is proud to represent the growers of Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties in Washington State. Check in with our blog – To The Core - to find out what’s happening in the orchards that produce some of Washington’s Finest Mountain Grown Fruit.
We have a special interview for you this month with organic grower, John Bostock, of Bostock New Zealand. John is the largest producer of organic apples in New Zealand and partners with Chelan Fresh. We are thrilled that we were able to catch up with him during his trip to Chelan.
Chelan Fresh: Hello John, Welcome to Chelan!
John Bostock: Thank you very much indeed, what a wonderful place it is here!
CF: Is this your first trip to Chelan and visit with Chelan Fresh?
JB: This is my first trip to Chelan and I think you have one of the treasures of the world here. It’s quite beautiful.
CF: John, please tell us about your operation in New Zealand?
JB: I am situated in Hawkes Bay, in Hastings New Zealand, which is in the middle of the north island on the east coast. I am the sole shareholder, the Managing Director and the Chairman of the company and we have a range of horticultural crops as well as some processing facilities. I started the business from nothing about 35 years ago and now our total crop acreage is 6000 acres.
CF: That sounds like it keeps you busy! What kinds of crops do you grow?
JB: We do about 50,000 tons of onions a year, 10,000 tons of Japanese squash, and 10,000 tons of maize (or corn to you in the US). We also have an organic chicken business, a juice business where we juice 50,000 tons of apples and kiwi fruit, and we have an ice cream business. Oh and we also have a vineyard.
So it is a range of businesses, and of course organic apples and kiwis. We have 1600 acres of apples in various stages of production and we are currently exporting about 1 million boxes of fully certified organic apples around the world.
CF: That is a large operation. What are the main apple varieties that you grow?
JB: We grow the popular varieties such as Gala, Braeburn, Fuji, Pink Lady, or should I say “Crooks Pink” as we call it.
CF: Tell us about your partnership with Chelan Fresh?
JB: We have been working with Chelan Fresh for two seasons now and they are handling my organic apples for customers here in the United States. Chelan Fresh also ship to another independent importer in the US called Awesome Organics.
CF: Does the organic growing process in New Zealand differ at all from what we do here in the US?
JB: Basically, the organic protocol is a global standard. We have to comply with the NOP, the American organic standard, as well as the British and the European standard so the New Zealand standard ends up being very strict. We are very luck in New Zealand that our pest pressure is quite low and our disease pressure is not too strong so we are able to grow organically very easily.
CF: You have been working in the industry for quite some time, what keeps you going after all these years?
JB: I am really passionate about growing, I enjoy working with nature instead of fighting against it. Nothing gives me a greater thrill than to see a crop laden with fruit that has been growing from day one. And for me, growing healthy fruit that is feeding the world is a big motivation.
CF: Is it difficult to get certain apple varieties where you are?
JB: We are always looking for more varieties, but as you know NZ has been a great innovator of varieties. We introduced the Gala and Braeburn varieties, as well as the Jazz variety. And I have a couple of very exciting varieties that are coming to market soon, one is called Basil and the other is Posey.
CF: I did not know that, that is very exciting! Where do you think the fruit industry will go from here?
JB: I think the fruit industry is going to become quite competitive and we will see new varieties that are more in-tune to consumer needs and tastes becoming more popular. In my opinion, the apple industry has an amazing future because of the high quality of the fruit being produced and consumer appeal around the world.
CF: Is there anything else you would like to tell the folks here in Chelan?
JB: I would just like to say that I am so impressed with this part of Washington as well as Chelan Fresh and Chelan Fruit. I think the fruit quality they are growing here is amazing, particularly this year. The growers do an incredible job in quite difficult conditions. Our soil has natural fertility and, in many ways, I think it is much easier to grow crops in NZ than WA.
Also, the people are incredible and I am so impressed with how they are looking after their workforce, the land and making the whole business harmonious. This is such a beautiful place!
CF: Enjoy the rest of your trip in Chelan John, and thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us!
JB: My pleasure.
For more about John and Bostock New Zealand check out his website at http://www.bostock.nz/