Donald and Jackie Butler know a thing or two about growing berries. Their iconic Waimate business has been luring people for over 50 years to sample and pick berries, and in more recent times try the treats on offer at the café.
Donald’s first love was for strawberries but, over time, he diversified into growing all types of fruit with 80 acres in blackcurrants alone. When Donald’s parents arrived at the property it was planted in apples. Berries became a good option however, with smaller farm lots. Although at over 130 acres it isn’t exactly a tiny lot, and must rate as one of the largest berry farms in the South Island.
Donald and Jackie have worked very, very hard to create their “destination” business and it is a credit to them that they have kept driving the business forward, planting different species of berries that will prolong the picking season. They now have raspberries for sale from Dec – May each year.
What doesn’t get eaten fresh gets made into delicious jams and sauces in their registered kitchen on site.
During the peak of the season there are 30 – 40 workers in the fields picking directly into punnets which are then chilled to take the field heat off them.
Donald was one of the first vendors to trade at the Otago Farmers Market in 2003. Each Saturday, right through the year, he drives for 2.5 hours each way to bring the Dunedin public delicious, fresh berries in summer and jams and sauces though the winter months.
In spring Donald brings buckets of daffodils and berry canes to sell so people can grow their own fruit.