by Helen Martin
Four years ago, Nadeen and Peter Hamilton left their two-acre Woodhill property and moved with their children to Parkhurst Gardens, a 15-acre market garden on South Head Road. The garden needed a lot of work to be brought back into production but Nadeen and Peter relished the challenge.
Adding to the grape vines and large fig trees already there they planted an orchard, which is now a prolific provider of limes, plums and passionfruit. An abundance of vegetables grown from their own seed includes pumpkin, buttercup, sweetcorn, watermelon, kumara, cucumbers and zucchinis. Brassicas like broccoli and cauliflower will join the winter crops and avocado trees have been planted. “We’ll see how they go,” Nadeen says.
It’s a lot of work just producing the crops– raising seedlings, planting, feeding (the soil needs a lot of nutrients), watering, weeding and pruning. As Nadeen says, ”Growing’s all trial and error isn’t it? It’s all down to the weather gods.” But it’s satisfying work, especially when selling the results of their labours enables them to provide the community with fresh produce.
As the person in charge of that, Nadeen uses a variety of outlets. There’s no stall with an honesty box, because when they tried that at Woodhill, they got tired of being robbed. Instead, Nadeen sells regularly at the Kaukapakapa Market and, when there’s a surplus, the Coatesville Market. Over summer, Nadeen has been selling sweetcorn in Mill Road, outside Mitre 10. People like to buy directly from her, knowing the produce is local and fresh. She enjoys donating to the local community fruit and vege stand and the couple are keen entrants at the Helensville A&P Show.
For Nadeen and Peter it’s in their blood – Peter grew up on farm and Nadeen grew up on two acres, where her parents had a chicken farm. “At the moment it’s more of a hobby,” Nadeen explains. “We’re doing it because we love the lifestyle.”