Food is something that no one can do without, so producing food is a career option well worth considering.
In NZ there are long waiting lists in the public hospital system and health insurance costs are increasing. There are a growing number of people suffering from diseases that are often (although not always) related to poor nutrition such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental health problems and obesity. Many people have made the connection between bad diet and bad health and there is an increasing market for good quality food as people realise they don’t want to (or can’t afford to) get sick.
People who know how to grow food have a skill that they can use to seek employment on existing farms, become self-employed or work with others in cooperative ventures.
Much of the produce sold in NZ is bought by large wholesalers and then sold by the wholesalers to retail outlets. However there are a number of smaller outlets that buy produce that provide an alternative to supplying produce to wholesalers. There is also the option of selling your produce directly to another person or business through this website: http://homegrownmaps.co.nz/
Other potential outlets for fresh produce include:
There are now farmers’ markets (where growers and farmers can rent a stall at a marketplace and sell food directly to customers) in most major towns and cities in NZ. (See http://www.farmersmarkets.org.nz/ )
Locations and contact details for organisers may be seen at this link:
Businesses that deliver fresh fruit and vegetables to people’s homes:
There are a number of online businesses that buy fresh produce from producers and deliver it to their customers. Businesses of this type include:
Ooooby is an acronym that stands for “Out of our own backyards”. Ooooby is a business that delivers a box of locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables to its customers on a weekly basis. It is based in Auckland and buys produce from growers (including home gardeners) within a 200 km radius of the city. Produce need not be certified organic.
Online Farmers Market
This is a business that buys fresh fruit and vegetables, honey etc and sells it through its online store.
Businesses that deliver organic produce
There are a number of these serving different areas of New Zealand. Below is a sampling of websites. (Google “organic delivery” + your town/city to find a local home delivery business in your area that may be interested in buying fruit or vegetables you can produce.) These businesses probably require their food to have organic certification (see this page http://www.growtogether.org.nz/category/gardening-information/organic-certification/) but it may be worth enquiring as to whether they ever take uncertified produce.
http://www.eco-organics.co.nz/home_del.htm (Auckland based – delivers to Auckland and much of the North Island)
http://www.naturallyorganic.co.nz/ (Auckland based – delivers nationwide)
http://www.organicconnection.co.nz/ (Delivers to Wellington, Wairarapa, Manawatu)
https://www.justorganic.co.nz/ (Delivers to Christchurch, Canterbury, elsewhere in the South lsland)
Local wholefood/organic shops
Wholefood and organic shops in NZ usually get most of their organic produce from organic wholesalers; however some may buy directly from growers so it is worth enquiring at these stores what sort of produce they may want to buy and whether they take uncertified produce.
Some foods that are valued by gourmet restaurants (such as red cherry tomatoes or golden pear-shaped miniature tomatoes) are ridiculously easy to grow. (They grow like weeds – although they can be vulnerable to the new potato psyllid pest, so may now require extra care to get a good crop in affected areas: See: http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/life-style/5409621/Dangerous-new-pest-can-wipe-out-potato-crops)
It is worth asking local (or not so local) restaurants what sort of produce they need; crops such as microgreens or gourmet lettuce/mesclun etc salad mixes that are popular in fine restaurants are not difficult to grow organically and could be a good source of income.
Conclusion: The ideas on this page are obviously not the last word about the sorts of employment or income-generating opportunities open to people with gardening skills but intended to give an idea of the potential that developing organic gardening skills has in helping people find work or start their own businesses.