In 1997 Boyd Brinsdon and his wife bought 5.7 hectares of arable land in Ripponvale Rd in Cromwell. Boyd's main career is with Contact Energy where he is the Head of Hydro Generation, however he has a love for the land and grows top, export quality cherries. In 2002 he planted out one hectare of the land in seven varieties of cherries for export.
The evening the Otago Farmers Market visited we were bowled over by the sheer beauty of the property.
Boyd relies heavily on 45 South which is the largest pack house in Otago. He contracts them to do all the fertilising, manage the spray programme and put up the nets. Boyd and his family are responsible for the watering and managing the harvest for the domestic markets, including for the Otago Farmers Market. At the peak of harvest Boyd employs 8-10 pickers to get the fruit off the trees. 45 South step in when the harvest exceeds what can be sold at the market and at Park and picks the remainder for export.
While in the early days the whole crop was planned for export Boyd grew a little disillusioned in 2008-2009 when it seemed that the growers took all the risk but couldn’t be guaranteed a price. These days only his surplus gets exported. A bumper crop in the 2015/2016 season ensured that surplus was shipped to Taiwan. This helps to validate to Boyd that the cherries he sells locally are in fact consistent with quality that can (and do) get exported.
Boyd insists that his cherries are tree ripened to reach 20 brix of sweetness which he says is the ideal level.
Boyd loves coming to the Otago Farmers Market. His two children travel with him and they take real care to ensure that their cherries arrive in optimal condition. All of their cherries are washed and chilled in the pack house and chiller on their property. They are packed into bins lined with disposable plastic liners - this helps to keep the stems of the cherries green. They are kept chilled until 3.45am on Saturday morning when they are packed into their trailer to come to the market. All cherries sold at the market are sold within 48 hours of being picked. Staff wear rubber gloves to pack the cherries into 500gm or 1kg bags or boxes at the market. Cruise ship visitors particularly like the guarantee that all of the cherries have been washed. The cherries in the trailer are still nicely chilled even by noon on market day, and Boyd encourages buyers to sample the cherries by offering tastings.
Boyd and his family have been coming to the OFM since 2006, and the long line of customers waiting to buy their cherries is testament to the quality.