Monday, April 15, 2024
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Jackson Orchard Enterprise Expands

The unveiling of a new state-of-the-art packhouse mid 2023 has consolidated production levels for Jackson Orchards cementing it as one of Central Otago’s largest orcharding enterprises. Kevin Jackson and his team operate more than 200 tonnes of stone and pip fruit through their newly installed MAF RODA grader each season and around 10-15 tonnes of cherries over their cherry grader.

“The new facility has increased our level of production no end and doubled our footprint in size,” he says. “Moving the grading machines has allowed more retail space and additional room to process our online sales, subscription and mail orders.”

Kevin and his family are fourth generation growers with his great grandfather establishing an orchard in Alexandra during the gold rush in the 1860s.nThe property on the Luggate – Cromwell highway grows cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, greengages, apples and pears.

“The region’s long sunshine hours allow us to grow a diverse range of fruit and we have the longest season of any orchard in the country. All our fruit is sold domestically, we don’t export any of it,” he says.

Around 100 staff are employed during the summer season including approximately 15 permanent workers who run orchard maintenance and retail operations throughout the rest of the year.

“We are harvesting for around five months with the fruit stall, tours and ice-cream kiosk operating year round. People love to stop and see the operation, taste the fruit and other produce sold and the ice-creams sell themselves.”

Bucket List Tours

Jackson Orchards orchard tours are a special Central Otago experience and on many visitors’ bucket lists.

“People can’t pass through Cromwell without experiencing local fruit in some way – it’s what Cromwell is most famous for,” says marketing manager Hayley Culverwell.

“Our tours operate most days of the year on the hour from 9.00am until 4.00pm. Visitors can hop on board one of our electric buses for a fun, informative insight into the orchards working.”  

Tours last for about 45 minutes with guests learning why bees are vital to growing fruit and why the orchard’s trees grow on V-shaped trellis amongst other fascinating facts.

“During the summer tour participants partake in sample picking and get to eat some of our delicious sun-ripened fruit directly from the tree,” says Hayley. “Our pristine orchard is a delight at any time of year offering beautiful colours, sights and smells. We have two new tour buses taking 13 people each plus a guide and we also accommodate walking tours for larger groups, corporate events and school visits.”

Berry Nice

Jackson Orchards sells over 70,000 ice creams a season from its dedicated outdoor kiosk beside the orchard retail store.

“We have mango, strawberry, blueberry, boysenberry, passionfruit, banana, hokeypokey, raspberry, apricot, cherry with the most popular flavour being mixed berry,” says marketing manager Hayley Culverwell. “ The kiosk is operated by our fruit stall staff and we use our own apricots for the ice cream. Customers can choose up to two flavours which are blended and swirled into one of three waffle cone sizes making them custom made.”