At home among the avocados

20 October 2013
Written by Sacha Kenny | Images by Sacha Kenny
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Sacha Kenny visits a stunning organic avocado orchard and discovers the incredible results produced by one family driven by passion, enthusiasm and hard work



When Karen and Peter Brooking moved into their Kapiti hinterland property they decided to have the home blessed by the local priest; as it turned out their local clergyman was in fact the same man who married them some 22 years prior.

A wonderful coincidence, Karen describes how when the priest came to bless the house and land he put on his robes and walked around quietly before coming back to them and saying “I don’t think I need to do this – this place is already blessed”, but he blessed it anyway, so now as Karen says, they feel doubly blessed. 

With a foreground of Queen Elizabeth Park stretching out to the Tasman Sea and Kapiti Island and a backdrop of native bush running along the Maungakotukutuku Scenic Reserve and Whareroa Farm - it's easy to see why.

It was the death of Karen’s father that initiated within her a shift that would foresee the sale of the family business, relocating from Auckland to the Kapiti Coast and going organic.  Karen says the deep sadness she felt from her father's passing uncovered a profound need to connect on a different level. “Everything suddenly changed, I couldn't continue living how we were, I really felt the need to reconnect in a more organic, grounded way."

With the help of Peter’s brother, who lived on the coast at the time, their new home was found. 

“When we first looked at the property I remember Peter, our son Marc and I were standing on the front lawn looking out across to the sea and Marc said “I could live here”. At that moment I looked at my husband and we both said “yep this is us”, we looked at nothing else.”

Thirteen years later and with no previous horticultural experience, Karen has put her heart and soul into turning the former small holdings farm into a certified organic avocado orchard producing Kapiti Organic Avocados.

It’s only now, after many ups and downs, that their absolute determination and passion is starting to pay off.  “We’re finally starting to feel a sense of control over what they’re doing, and being organic,” says Karen with pride, “has been an absolute passion and driving force behind our success."

“It’s very exciting to have a product that is so desirable. Being organic and being able to supply the purest of foods is just the most wonderful feeling.”

With close to 500 avocado trees, Kapiti Organic Avocados supply Moore Wilson and Commonsense Organics (Coastlands and Kilbirnie) with fresh avocados from February to June.

Truly a family affair, last summer the whole family came together to plant 70 new avocado trees and this summer the orchard, rose garden, meandering hills and free-flowing stream will be the venue of Marc and his Australian fiancée's wedding.

Completely immersed in the cycle of planting, growing, picking, boxing, invoicing, and delivering, Karen is GM, gardener, packer and delivery driver and she wouldn't have it any other way.

“Peter and I did the picking this year and it was very, very physical but I loved it, I honestly, honestly loved it – I would get inside a tree, like when I was a child and reach and stretch for the fruit, it was just fantastic”

“You know this place is our opus, it’s our work, our home, our labour of love.”

Kapiti Organic Avos: organic avocados from the beautiful Kapiti Coast.

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