Organic Maize and Kiwi Organics

August 2014

A family company grows and mills organic and gluten-free products in Gisborne

Second generation Tolaga Bay farmers Mike and Bridget Parker grow a range of organic crops on their property Broadlands, an hour’s drive north of Gisborne. Mike and Bridget bought Broadlands in 1991 from the family. It’s a 240 hectare farm on the coast north of Gisborne that Mike’s parents had owned since the 1950’s. Mike’s parents drained the land for a mixed-cropping regime. When Bridget and Mike bought the property, they worked hard to make it pay. Bridget taught full time and the farm provided a living – of sorts.

They grew peas, tomatoes, maize, squash and sweetcorn, ran a Suffolk sheep stud and fattened beef. Mike and Bridget became increasingly frustrated at being unable to control the prices they were paid for their crops, or for that matter what happened to their crops once they left the gate.

Mike had managed kiwifruit blocks in Te Puke early in his farming career so he was used to working with chemicals. Organic trials run on the East Coast early in their time at Broadlands encouraged Mike and Bridget to have a go at organic growing. They trialed an organic system for three years, running the conventional and the organic system side by side.

Today Broadlands is fully organic certified by Bio-Gro to international standards and also to the American organic system USDA-NOP and Broadlands pastures are increasingly treated with biodynamic preparations. The couple say that it was initially alarming to be without chemicals but today they have quite a complex arsenal of gear designed to deal to weeds without resorting to the 4litre plastic container. Similarly fertiliser is introduced naturally – they use legume crops to fix nitrogen into the soil.

Every year about 1000 tonnes of organic maize leaves Broadlands and their other property, Fenlands, some supplying organic corn-fed chicken markets and organic dairy herds. The rest is milled into cornflour, polenta, cornmeal and bran flakes at their gluten free mill in Gisborne.

They were approached to supply organic grain for baking and discovered there was no organic and gluten free mill in New Zealand, so they decided they’d have to do it themselves. The mill is in a former Watties cool-store in the heart of Gisborne city that they originally started by using discarded milling equipment that they taught themselves how to operate.

There is a rapidly growing market for gluten-free and/or organic grain-based locally grown products and under their Kiwi Organics brand the Parkers now supply a range that includes cornflour, wholegrain cornflour, polenta, express polenta and cornmeal, popcorn and corn bran to nationwide and overseas specialty and health food providers.

The Parker’s second property Fenlands, is currently for sale. Details can be found through the following link: