On the next episode, screening 9th April 2017 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:
Cherries on Top
During spring time you’ll likely find North Otago sheep and beef farmer John Newlands in his cherry orchard.
That’s his main focus on the family farm near Incholme, south of Oamaru, since diversifying into growing Montmorency tart cherries some 20 years ago.
When droughts hit hard, and the bottom fell out of wool and lamb prices in the early 80s, farmers in the district were walking off the land with only what they could carry.
John and his wife Maureen were determined not only to stick it out, but to stop it happening again. They researched crops they could plant which were healthy, could be easily harvested, and would have a ready market.
In the pre-Google days, they hit the libraries, read magazines, and eventually settled on tart cherries.
A research trip to the US state of Michigan led to the couple beginning to import and sell Montmorency tart cherry health products.
“In the northern hemisphere, they’re known as the healing fruit. With high levels of melatonin and natural anti-oxidants they’re basically a super-food” says John.
With an online business, the majority of their customers are online. But they also sell to selected pharmacies and health food stores.
But selling the imported Cherryvite health products is only the beginning of the story. It was the discovery of the health benefits to the four-legged farm staff, which led John and Maureen to their next breakthrough.
“Our companion pet spaniel Maggie used to come with us to the orchard at harvest time and eat the wind-fall cherries beneath the trees. We soon noticed after harvest how active and healthy she looked, with a spring in her step and glossy coat!” says John.
Realising they’d be onto a winner if they could offer to dogs the same healthy benefits they were offering to humans, the idea of making natural, healthy dog biscuits came up.
The recipe took many years and hundreds of tests to perfect. “When I first blew up Maureen’s first Kenwood cake mixer, it didn’t make for happy families. Then I blew up the second one...” confesses John.
“No, but that didn’t stop you” laughs Maureen, “he’s very determined is John!”
They eventually perfected the recipe to the approval of Massey University's Institute of Food Nutrition and Human Health, and to AAFCO International Animal Food Standards, as a fully balanced dog food.
John now spends much of his time overseeing the biscuit factory he’s built in an old implements shed on the farm.
John’s son, Snow now runs the livestock side of the farm. It’s a flexible operation -they finish lambs and cattle, and also do some cropping – depending on what the seasons dictate.
And at harvest time, the whole family descends on the cherry orchard, from around the lower south island, to help pick the fruit.
“It’s a perfect chance for family bonding” laughs John. “It’s great for the grandchildren to come and participate; it’s what families are all about in NZ.”
For more about Radical Dog Biscuits, visit:www.radicaldog.co.nz/
For more about Cherryvite health products visit: www.cherryvite.co.nz/
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