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Greet the grower: Moorpark & Mulberry

Moorpark and Mulberry is renowned for the sweetest, juiciest, tree-ripened fruit Central Otago brings to market. The family run orchard takes pride in providing customers with heritage variety fruit, such as Moorpark Apricots, Wiggins Peaches, Greengage and Black Doris Plums.

Mike Darling (aka Moorpark Mike) and wife Helen bought the 10-hectare orchard nearly a decade ago to provide tree ripened fruit with the sweet flavour of yesteryear. Mike comes from a family of orchardists so he knew what the rewards, and hard work, that they were in for!

Their name Moorpark and Mulberry was Helens inspriation and Mike says it suits them well, “we are all about old fashioned fruit and old-fashioned values.” Moorpark is a heritage variety of apricots and some of the Moorpark apricot trees in the orchard are over 80 years old.

“They are an amazing fruit”, says Mike, “intense and succulent.” Holding the fruit longer on the trees helps to create beautiful juicy, sweeter fruit and this Mike believes is a key difference between their orchard and the larger operations. “It costs more”, he admits as there is a risk of fruit getting too ripe and thus becoming sheep feed, but Mike believes the reward makes it a risk worth taking!

William Attwell from Bidfresh Wanaka agrees and says Moorpark and Mulberry are a great example of our wonderful local suppliers which mean we can offer chefs the tastiest fruit. William says “Mike supplies A grade fruit, including special heritage varieties. And he is always excited to show off new varieties.” In season the fruit, which was picked that day is delivered by the family to Bidfresh Wanaka, and as William says “it always arrives ripe, juicy and ready to eat!”

Central Otago with its extremes in temperature provides the perfect climate for growing beautiful stone fruit. Yet there is more to successful orcharding than the weather and the Darlings have put a lot of effort into ways to conserve water as well as cut down on chemicals and pesticides. Mike points out that “our people, our community, our customers and our environment are at the core of our operation.”

William says the local chefs appreciate not just the fantastic fruit but also the low chemical use, not to mention the abundance of flavoursome and well priced fruit throughout the summer, not just to serve in season, but bottling a bit of the flavours of summer for the best tasting jams and chutneys all year around!


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