Most Surprising Producers in North Canterbury

Alongside the beautiful and visible valleys laden with grapes, the North Canterbury plains are home to a host of interesting produce items that might just surprise you. Each with their own unique stories, heritage and passionate humans behind them.

Mainland Hemp

The worldwide emergence of hemp has officially made its way to our back yard. With our long sunshine hours and soil type, North Canterbury is the perfect place for growing luscious fields of green hemp. To make room for this sustainable and profitable crop, a number of local farmers have diversified their offering to include this high protein superfood. In order to ensure the processing can take place both locally and effectively we’re fortunate to have our very own Mainland Hemp factory located in Culverden. It’s here that the hemp seeds are processed and distributed, ready to be made into food products, natural skincare and an array of protein supplements.

Canterbury Nuts

Ever wondered where those heart shaped locally grown hazelnuts come from? Answer: The North Canterbury Plains. Established back in 2005, the Harris family are the caretakers of a maturing orchard in West Eyreton. It’s here that 3000 hazelnut trees grow abundant and strong, despite the often harsh environmental stressors within this region. With an onsite processing facility, this hazelnut farm is made up of predominantly the whiteheart varietal. Harvested in late summer and early autumn, these nutrient dense bundles are dried, stored in-shell and then transformed into all matter of treats including: light roasted, dark roasted, blitzed into hazelnut butter or dunked in dark chocolate.

Kings Truffles

Aptly named, Kings Truffles are the monarch of the region when it comes to North Canterbury’s limestone country. With 6000 trees located in Waipara they are one of the largest truffle-growing operations in the whole country. Founded by Bill Lee in 2003, his daughter Jax joined the business in 2006 and now leads the team supplying and innovating with the extraordinary black truffles. With a short season of June to August, these prized little gems are sniffed out by resident dogs and either sold fresh, whipped into their infamous truffled butter or gracefully grated on dishes by local chefs. With a range of bespoke hunting excursions, you can even visit the farm and find your own truffle treasure.

Wash Creek Organic Beef & Lamb

Looking for certified organic lamb and beef that tastes of the place it is reared? Look no further than Wash Creek. A collaboration of local and experienced organic North Canterbury farmers, in 2015 they combined forces and knowledge to collectively produce the best restaurant quality meat they could. With livestock that roam along the coastal Hurunui hills near Waipara as well as the pastures of Mount Cass, they dine out on a rotational diet of chicory, clovers, lucerne and plantains. The result is a premium and flavourful product known and appreciated for its flawless flavour and texture.

Pihi Farms

Think of the most unlikely and interesting produce item, and you’ll find Pihi farms probably grows it, or at least has tried! Built on a deep commitment to permaculture, farmer Phil’s whole systems approach allows a unique ability to grow a diverse range of surprising ingredients. Renowned by chefs regionally for their impressive haul of urenika (purple potatoes), Pihi Farms also grow lesser known produce gems including yacon, spaghetti squash and globe artichokes. There are also vibrant red veined sorrel, amaranth leaf (a great substitute for spinach) and those striking pink and white Chioggia beetroot.