Back in 1975 Jim Kebbell and Marion Wood (who would later set up Commonsense) bought some land in Te Horo as an outreach for the halfway houses they were running at the time.
Initially the farm was operated on a small scale by Wellington professionals who would come up at weekends but gradually grew to a commercial operation. In 1991 the first Commonsense store was born in Wellington city, as an outlet for all the produce grown at the farm.
Nowadays Common Property has never been stronger with brassicas, leeks, salad greens, capsicum, zucchini, aubergine, lemons, micro-greens, strawberries and 97 varieties of vegetable seedlings all grown on the 11.2ha property. Much of this produce is sold through our Commonsense stores and some of the salad greens and microgreens go to a number of restaurants and supermarkets in the district.
Jim and Marion still own the seedlings section but the land supports several independent growers too:
Sean grows a variety of delicious vegetables, including leeks, brassicas, pumpkins, garlic, silverbeet, potatoes, celery and zucchini, under the Common Property brand.
Alan runs his business, Kapiti Organics from Common Property. He grows our famous salad mix, which is made up of an assortment of 20 varieties of various leaves including mixed lettuce and baby mesclun. He also runs some side-lines growing capsicums, zucchinis, aubergines, and even some Florence fennel this year too!
Peter is one of New Zealand’s experts on strawberries - so skilled that he nearly has us in strawberries all year round!
Mayatiita has a large glass house in which he grows micro-greens and other gourmet produce.
The growers used to be employees of Common Property but, aside from those who grow the seedlings, they now all operate for themselves and employ their own people. This way of working gives the farmers more independence and leaves them to work out their own hours of work based on what their section of the farm needs. However working closely together means that they can pool resources and share costs too.
Growers can choose to trade under their own brand or come within the Common Property umbrella. It can be hard to set up accounts for small growers so they’ve mainly found that it’s better to stick together. They also all work together to ensure that the farm remains under one organic certification as a whole entity.
At the moment, they’re building a new commercial kitchen with the hope to potentially use their surplus fruit and vegetables and turn them into jams, relishes etc. Watch this space!
Learn more about the history of Commonsense on our About Us page.