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Episode 15: All in the Family


Screened 30 June at 7pm on TV ONE:

Episode 15, All in the Family


It's an age-old New Zealand tradition for families to work together on the land and it's one that's flourishing in a Taranaki market garden.

The close-knit Moratti family grow a huge range of vegetables on nine hectares of land they own north of New Plymouth, plus other blocks they lease in the district.

Three Moratti brothers - who go by the nicknames of Fred, Pogul and Boo - started the venture after a decade working together in the family agricultural contracting business.

Their father, Ken, was dairy farming near Inglewood when he decided to branch into contracting. He had a couple of old Massey Ferguson tractors and landed a job re-grassing the land after the Kapuni gas line was laid.

Years of making hay and silage around the central North Island followed - and as each of the Moratti boys left school, they joined their father in the contracting business.

But the job often took the brothers away from home and once they married and had young children, they wanted a more family-friendly lifestyle.

One brother, Billie, took over the contracting business and the other three bought Ruakiwi Gardens which was then one of 20 market gardens between New Plymouth and Waitara. Today there are only two others left. 

The Morattis didn't know much about growing vegetables but had plenty of equipment and figured it couldn't be too hard. "After the first year," admits the oldest brother, Fred, "we wondered why we ever left contracting work!"

But two decades on, the brothers are still at it and, along with their wives, are working harmoniously together in the business.
 
Moratti family members do most of the work themselves, bringing in extra help only at busy times like Christmas. They each have a specialised role - Pogul and his wife Lyndy are in charge of harvesting, Boo is the marketing guru, Fred is responsible for cultivation, and his wife Jan runs their Ruakiwi Gardens retail shop.

Most of the work is done by hand and it's back-breaking - on a typical day, the Morattis might cut 20 crates of sweet corn before morning tea, deliver them to market, then head back to the fields to harvest a hectare of potatoes.

But even though the physical labour is taking a toll, no one in the family would have it any other way - they say they enjoy the work and each other's company.

To contact the Moratti family, email boomoratti@xtra.co.nz

For more on the history of market gardening in New Zealand, visit:
www.teara.govt.nz/en/market-gardens-and-production-nurseries

For more on the Taranaki region, visit:
www.taranaki.co.nz

Credits:

Camera
Richard Williams
Barrington West

Field sound
Don Paulin

Offline editor
Brent Whitwell

Online editor
Alex Wright

Sound mixer
Ian Leslie

Research
Vivienne Jeffs

Network executive
Jude Callen

Consultant producer
Frank Torley

Associate producer
Dan Henry

Production manager
Robyn Best

Director/reporter
Frank Torley

Producer
Julian O'Brien

 


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