What to do with our SLG friends for the day? That was the question. It was my turn to organise our monthly get-together. This usually involves a visit somewhere or other interesting, a stop for refreshments, and now that we are all getting that a little bit long in the tooth, we have to factor in a comfort stop or two along the way. Oh dear – the joys of getting older! I decided to see what was available locally, in our new home town of Levin.
It was a day with a difference alright, starting off with a visit to “Roses by Rusden”. We knew Russell from way back, and he was happy to accommodate our group with a tour though his greenhouses. Russell and his wife Denise bought the business in 1996 after being made redundant from Telecom – just like Robin was, all those years ago. It was certainly a steep learning curve for them both.
The two greenhouses are slowly being changed to all hydroponic management. The roses are purchased as seedlings, and are grown two to a pot. Russell’s busy day starts with cutting blooms in the early mornings, pruning, and checking for any pests, such as aphids.
Growing roses is a 7 day a week operation, and these long stemmed beauties are bred for the cut flower market. The flowers are cut in the early morning, and stored in the large chiller which keeps them fresh. Packing is done two days a week, when the roses are sorted into length and different varieties, and graded by the straightness of the stems. The bottom leaves and thorns are stripped off, and the roses are put into bundles of 10, known as a deck. Rusden’s roses are sold to local florists, supermarkets, and the excess gets sent to market. Fourteen different varieties are grown, and 75,000 stems are cut each year.
Before we left, we were invited to choose some roses to take home with us. It was interesting to see how the we ladies gravitated to different colours. My choice was more in the pastel line, and I was very happy with my bunch of freshly picked roses. Russell gave us a few tips on how to make the blooms last longer, such as to cut the stems on an angle, and place them in warm water.
After a tasty lunch at Te Horo Cafe, our next stop was a visit to Te Horo Foods. Crossing over the Main Trunk lime, we travelled down narrow country roads, finally turning into the farm where some of the fruit is grown. We were given a tour through the kitchen, where the smell of lovely fresh raspberry jam greeted us. I was surprised to see that the jam is cooked up in small batches, using a preserving pan, just like the one I use myself at home. Te Horo Foods make their jam from 100% pure New Zealand fruit, natural sugar and a trace of butter to help the cooking process. As the label says, “each batch is individually hand made, using traditional methods and recipes”. That's certainly true.
The jam is then cooled before being put through this machine which pottles and seals the jam, which is then packed into cartons, ready to be delivered to supermarkets throughout the country.
After our look through the operational areas, we were taken back to the office building where a spread of pikelets, Te Horo jam and cream awaited us, together with tea and coffee. There was much discussion on which jams to try, and we all had our favourites.
Having eaten our full, we were each presented with a pottle of Omega plum jam to take home, and most of us purchased another one or two as well – our choices were blackberry and raspberry. That should keep us going for a while. Our day of roses and jam came to an end, we said our goodbyes, and headed off home.