"Green Grower"

Horticultural News - April 1992  
Organic Production and commercial market gardening have been considered unlikely bed mates.

"We were willing to do this story in order to give others the confidence to have a go," Aileen Matheson says. "If any do, then our effort will have been worthwhile".

They didn't bother to label produce going into the auction markets as being organic. "According to the information we had as soon as it was labelled organic , the auctioneers would flog it through," Aileen says. "People expected organic produce to be rubbish and not up to standard." But their produce gained top dollar because it was seen as top quality and it lasted a long time.

Overall their attitude to weeds and pests is if there is a problem work out what the need is... Instead of regarding something as a problem, they use it as an indication of what is needed. "Chemicals simply break that natural cycle and it goes out of harmony, "Aileen says.

They say they've now been organic market gardening for so long they've almost intuitively gained the knowledge of what to do, though it's also partly an acceptance that nature does sort itself out without chemical interference.


The Mathesons - Successfully marketing organics to Aucklanders

Soil & Health - March/April 1998 by Chris Wheeler
Des & Aileen Matheson and their sons and helpers long ago reached institutional status at Takapuna's Sunday street market. As the major representative of organic fruit and vegetable growing at a market which draws people from as far away as Kaitaia and Tauranga, they provide a regular meeting spot for organic consumers who demand fresher and better quality organic produce that is still often the rule in the Auckland region.

"Starting into organics not only helped us to start to live and work in a healthier environment, but gave us produce which could be sold direct to the customer at a price which could suit us both," says Des.


Door to Door - The growing business of fresh organic veges, delivered to your door

Growing Today - Feb 2000 by Philippa Jones
Each Thursday his (Des Matheson) hundreds of customers receive their home delivered vegetables and fruit from his Kumeu organic gardens. Potatoes that are fluffy when cooked, lettuces that stay fresh for days, crunchy beans so nice you don't want to cook them, beetroot complete with tops that look like you could put them back in the soil and they would keep on growing, carrots that don't become bendy after a week in the fridge.

Customer Clare chooses to eat organically grown for her health and says of the fruit and vegetables in her weekly delivery, "It seems like I just brought them in from my own garden. When I get lettuces and put them in the fridge they're still crispy a week later. The vegetables and herbs seem still alive," she says.

I look forward to the vege box arriving on my verandah every Thursday morning. I know that the produce is as good if not better than if I grew it myself.

"And this is why organics taste so good: they have a deeper flavour because as well as being allowed to ripen fully on the plant, they have a better balance of nutrients and a higher mineral content," say Des.



Going Organic

North & South – December 2001 by Jenny Chamberlain

 “Grow your own. That’s the first choice and what I always tell my customers,” says Des Matheson. Gumbooted, blue-eyed, white-bearded, Matheson is Auckland’s original Earth Father. He runs Eco-Organics, a home delivery business supplying customers from a birdsong-filled, 18-acre Kumeu property deep in north Auckland countryside.

For years Matheson was organics in Auckland – the city’s biggest retail supplier selling mainly at weekend markets. But since the influx of new growers he’s moved to courier delivery and direct sales. Matheson says, given the increase in domestic demand – 50 per cent a year for the last three years – he’s rather glad new growers are cropping up. It was getting a bit “scary”, he says, figuring out where he’d get enough supply. He’s making a good living – employing three family members, plus one full time worker and casual labour when needed and is thinking about developing another organic farm up north.

Though most New Zealanders are privileged in having clean, green spaces outside our backdoors where we could grow our own organic fruit and veges, in Matheson’s observation 95 per cent of us don’t.

So the next best thing, if you’re going organic, is to develop a relationship with someone like him. You can buy from his range of 40 home grown crops, augmented by additional produce he brings in from other growers, direct from his tidy packing shed on Saturday mornings between 9am and 1pm.

Or you can order by phone, fax or email and Des, his wife Aileen, or son Jesse, will pick, pack and courier your order to your door in a matter of hours. It’s this close customer-grower relationship which characterizes going organic.