Barbara Harford and Lawrence Silas have been developing their OFNZ certified property, Treehut Farm in Te Horo since 2011, planting a new orchard including almonds and berryfruit and developing a forest garden. The chicken barn (built in 1904) is now a commercial kitchen where Barbara makes a wide range of delicious spreads, jams, chutneys and sauces from the orchard produce while Lawrence tends the bees who pollinate their crops and produce their delicious honey.
"The jam-making started as a fund-raiser to pay for our son’s football, and then I just kept experimenting, using what was available in our orchard. I’m just constantly learning and that’s how the land and the business evolves."
Barbara learned to cook commercially when she bought her first ‘health’ shop – The Natural Gourmet in Sydney – where she made and sold vegetarian food. It was so popular she expanded into an old bakery calling it ‘ Open Sesame’ – and sold cakes and savouries wholesale to other businesses. She draws on her experience as a graphic designer to create all her own labels.
For Barbara ‘organics’ has to be part of her philosophy and part of her life. It’s not just about growing organically – it’s important to her that the fundamental principles of organics (health, ecology, fairness and care), flow through all aspects of the business. From the start she has packed her products in glass and never considered plastic. Part of their property (native bush of totara, kohekohe and matai) is now covenanted and the birdlife is extensive. Some of their fruit trees they leave for the birds – kereru love almonds and the old plum varieties. And her meticulous attention to detail is reflected in the quality of all the products she creates.