M F L Fry & Son

Julie North @ 2021-09-04 13:27:49 +1200

The rickety steel frame tucked into a corner of Greg Fry’s hop shed is barely recognisable, but this network of steel bars and four spindly legs is, surprisingly, an old hospital bed. Largely concealed by a weighty pile of long-discarded tobacco sacks; its mattress and steel wheels long-gone, the bed has not been used for decades. It was brought to the farm by Greg’s great grandfather, France Fry, in the 1930s. “I have great memories of snuggling down in it beside my father on harvest nights while the heat from the hop kilns kept the whole shed warm,” says Greg....

Wai-iti Hops

Julie North @ 2021-09-04 13:23:24 +1200

On the eve of the very first harvest at Will Prouting’s new farm, Wai-iti Hops, all his equipment was either brand new or borrowed from other hop farmers. Just imported from Germany, the pristine Wolf hop-picking machine was positioned on its smooth, new concrete pad with two enormous tarpaulins to protect it from the elements. “I borrowed a conveyor from Holmdale Farm, a bagging hopper from Northwood Hops and bags from a retired hop farmer,” Will remembers. “I didn’t even have a kiln, so I borrowed some horse floats to transport the filled bags to another retired farmer’s kilns, and...

Long Gully Hops

Julie North @ 2021-09-04 13:38:42 +1200

The first time Andrew Fry planted his own hop gardens, his lifelong passion for “growing things” grew as rapidly as the healthiest of hop bines, wending their way skyward at astonishing speed. “I just really like growing things. I always have,” he says. “But there’s something about hops. They give you instant gratification for all your fertilising and irrigating efforts. “I like walking through the gardens and seeing how quickly they’ve changed, even in just one day.” Andrew will coyly admit to having a little word with the hops from time to time. “Yeah, I do talk to them a...

Rod Fry Ltd

Julie North @ 2021-09-04 12:35:16 +1200

Rod Fry was barely 15 years old when he decided to skip school to become a tobacco farmer. “I’d show up at school on Fridays though, because that was sports day and I played for the 1st IV rugby team,” he grins, recalling his big plans in the 1960s to make his fortune in horticulture. Spending more days of the week growing tobacco, than he was in the classroom at Motueka High School, it was not long before Rod was summoned to headmaster Mac Miller’s office to explain his continual absences. But rather than threatening expulsion or insisting Rod markedly...

Thorn Hops

Julie North @ 2021-07-08 14:03:42 +1200

Two weeks before the hop harvest of 1965, a freakishly powerful wind blasted through the usually tranquil Motueka Valley, where the Thorn family has been growing hops since 1928. Bearing the brunt of its mighty force, 10 acres of towering, hop-laden bines toppled like a giant house of cards, as several hundred support poles snapped off at ground level. Ian Thorn was barely into his teens but, even now, at 71, he still marvels over what happened the following day. “The next morning there were around 100 cars parked along our road and on our farm. People came from everywhere...

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