Recently we visited a hydroponics lettuce farm near Katikati.

It is one of the largest operations of its type in NZ, tucked away down a side road and out of view. Another example of “you never know what is behind that hedge”.

Run by Sarah and her father, a retired dairy farmer we were the first group Sarah had showed through, so she was, like us, wondering just how interesting it would be to us. We were not disappointed.

We started with the rinsing/drying/packing area, then on to where the seedlings are potted on.
From there we viewed just some of the the tunnel houses where several varieties of lettuces were in various stages of growth. Each plot had its own pump house where the nutrients are added and circulated in the water. All the way Sarah fielded our many questions and freely shared her vast knowledge of the operation.

For us, I think it was the scale of the operation that surprised us. With a staff of only six, they pump out tonnes of packaged leaves and thousands of cut lettuces every week. Bidfood has very recently bought their name, so have sole distribution rights, and this has freed Sarah and her team to concentrate on just growing lettuces.

Sarah sent us each home with a big bag of super fresh lettuce leaves.

We met up afterwards for a coffee in Katikati and agreed it had been a pretty good afternoon.