Looking for an organic producer to photograph on a recent trip to Northland my sister- in law put me onto “Mr Organic” who put me on to Okura Plantation.Okura plantation, an organic citrus orchard in Kerikeri, has been in the family of Mike and Pat Collins since 1954 and has been organic since 1987. To give you some idea of the history of organic farming in New Zealand, Okura plantation’s Biogro certification number is eighty one. If you were to register a new organic operation with Biogro in New Zealand today your number would be in four figures.
Originally three times the size, the orchard has been scaled back to the present size of ten acres. The plantation has crops of navel and Harward Late (Valencia) oranges, Satsuma and Encore mandarins, limes and a recently planted row of Seville oranges. Valencia oranges although named after the Spanish city, are actually a hybridised orange originating in California.
Let loose in the orchard by Mike, the weather gods were on my side providing beautiful soft light for the table top photography and sunlight for the landscapes.
Most of the organic citrus from Okura heads to Auckland for distribution but while I was at the orchard Mike was expecting pickers to take some of his oranges to the local farmers market in Kerikeri. I was surprised when he told me later his oranges had been usurped by some late ripening oranges arriving from Gisborne …six hundred kilometres away.