Richard Cato started growing cut flowers in 1986 as part of the family sheep and beef farm in the King Country, Central North Island, New Zealand. After 15 years of growing and exporting flowers, he turned to vegetables; garlic first and then potatoes. In 2016, Richard (semi) retired, and his son Tony took over the business. He expanded the land where he grows vegetables, first to 5ha and now to 16ha, and increased the range of produce to include brassicas – red and green cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, as well as lettuce and silver beet. Crops are grown on a 3-year rotation with potatoes in between. No chemical sprays are used, instead Tony relies on compost and other biological products to help with soil fertility and mulches to help with weed control. He is a strong believer in a regenerative philosophy – “the food we consume needs to come from healthy soil, providing us with the nutrients that nature intended us to eat.”
“The food we consume needs to come from healthy soil, providing us with the nutrients that nature intended us to eat.”– Tony Cato
The business now employs two full-time and two part-time staff, with most family members also helping out at various times. None of the farm produce is sold via wholesale, but via box deliveries to the local community or at three weekly farmers’ markets – Tauranga and Cambridge on Saturdays and Hamilton on Sundays.
Credit to Farmers Markets New Zealand