New strategy: reap between the vines

GERMARI HERSELMAN
Last updated 16:00 14/01/2014

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Harvest has come early at Renwick's Seresin Estate, but it's not grapes the staff are picking, it's garlic.

As part of its integrated farming philosophy, the wine company has planted crops between vines on its chardonnay block.

Seresin Estate manager Colin Ross said the farm was a reflection of the entire dinner table.

"Our farm is focused on more than just the wine glass - we focus on the whole meal," he said.

Along with garlic, there are crops of shallots, beans, potatoes, corn and fennel. Each is planted across a 6-metre-wide, 275m-long area, between the rows.

"In an older chardonnay block we kept two rows then cleared the next two rows, repeating the pattern throughout the block," Mr Ross said.

"Marlborough has such a rich history in growing garlic, fruit and oats successfully, we felt it was only fitting for a traditional farm set-up to grow them all."

Seresin Estate gardener Sean Phillips said he felt the vegetable project encouraged the community feel of the estate.

"Every Wednesday we have a meeting at 10am to catch up, we also use this time to divide the [produce] among the workers," Mr Phillips said.

Staff members also took turns to cook something for everyone to enjoy during the meeting, using ingredients available on the estate.

All produce was given away, to clients and staff, and the estate's animals also benefited.

"We don't believe in wasting and the horses love a good carrot or apple," Mr Phillips said.

Young travellers from Germany, France and the United States helped maintain and harvest the vegetables and fruit as part of the Willing Workers on Organic Farms programme.

"They work only on our non-profit areas, not the grapes, and get food and accommodation for their work - for them it is all about experiencing the New Zealand way of organic farming," Mr Phillips said.

"We have learned a lot from each other and the different ways things are done in other countries, he said.

"It has been great."

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- The Marlborough Express

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