Talley's pulls peas from Marlborough, but remains committed to the region

Talley's Marlborough area manager Matt Loose at the company's vegetable processing factory on Old Renwick Rd, in Marlborough.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Talley's Marlborough area manager Matt Loose at the company's vegetable processing factory on Old Renwick Rd, in Marlborough.

The peas may be gone, but with more than 300 staff, 11 types of vegetables, mussel farms and a processing factory, Talley's is very much committed to Marlborough.

Rumours the Motueka-based company was considering pulling its vegetable-growing operations in the region have been quashed by the company's area manager, Matt Loose.

Loose said that while the peas were gone the company, which employed up to 340 staff in Marlborough across its vegetable and mussel divisions, was here to stay.

For nearly 30 years Talley's was synonymous with commercial pea growing in Marlborough, but last year marked the final harvest as the company shifted its focus to Ashburton.

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Loose said mid-Canterbury had better growing conditions for peas, the company could get higher yields, and there was more land to expand its pea-growing operation.

Instead, Talley's was using the land freed up by the removal of peas to grow kale, which, after successful trials in 2015, the company harvested for the first time last year.

"The first year we did Kale we were just trialling, we were trying to find the perfect recipe in terms of things like the appropriate seed, and planting time," Loose said.

"Last year we had our first good crop, where we put everything we'd trialled into practice, which is why the peas moved down."

Loose said Talley's grew 11 types of vegetables in Marlborough, including spinach, corn, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, capsicum and zucchini. 

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He estimated the company and its contract growers farmed more than 2000 hectares in Marlborough, but the size of its holdings and the number of people employed often "flew under the radar".

He put this down to the fact Blenheim was a "viticulture town", something he guessed could also have led to speculation about the company's vegetable growing operations in the region.

"The amount of land for viticulture is constantly increasing, and I assume people make the assumption that if the grapes go in there's less available land for Talley's to grow our vegetables," he said.

"[But] we're staying here, mate. The only thing that did get moved was the peas."

 

 - The Marlborough Express

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