You are currently viewing New owners refresh citrus brand
The farmstead boasts a 540-tree citrus orchard, and the Greens are planning to nurture them as holistically and organically as possible. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

New owners refresh citrus brand

When Mike and Nikki Green first saw their farm on Omahu Valley Rd, they were instantly smitten. The couple spent two hours wandering around the 12 hectare property in the rain, stopping to view the farmhouse for only a couple of minutes. 

It was everything they were looking for – a rural, small community, with an established 540-tree citrus orchard and a stream, wetlands and regenerated bush as well as grazing land. It also came with an unexpected bonus – a small business. 

The property is home to Omahu Valley Citrus, formerly owned by Caroline and Simon Marriott. 

“Caroline and Simon were really keen to see that whoever bought it would be keen to continue the brand that Caroline had worked so hard to establish,” Nikki said. 

The Greens were quick to purchase the property, and what followed was a crash course in producing the artisan food product. 

“We spent six months between when we bought the property and when we took it over, learning the business,” Mike said. 

“We’d come out for weekends and we would go through different aspects of the property.” 

“Caroline had a checklist and she was teaching me and Mike how to make it,” Nikki added. 

“We really valued that.”

Currently, the couple are dividing their time between the farm and their home in Tauranga, where Nikki works and their teenage daughter attends school. They are slowly settling into the farm, making a number of renovations, and preparing to move across fully in just over a year. 

While Omahu Valley Citrus is still operating, Nikki and Mike have scaled back the number of products available as they find their feet. They’ve also been working with another producer, Pepler’s of Te Kauwhata, to ensure they are able to meet demand for the marmalades, chutneys and vinaigrette they are currently stocking. 

“We take a lot of pride that it’s still handmade, it’s still small batches, it’s still Caroline’s recipe,” Nikki said. 

“I haven’t written the other products off, they’re just not available at the moment.”

There will be other changes as well – Nikki is experimenting with tweaking the marmalade recipe to make production more cost-effective, and the couple are working on updating their digital platform for easier purchasing. Feedback was most welcome, Nikki said, and the business was always available by email and phone. 

Mike and Nikki Green are continuing on with the Omahu Valley Citrus range as they settle into the new home and business. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Meanwhile, there are also changes afoot on the rest of the farm. The Greens both have science and environmental backgrounds, and part of the appeal of the homestead was the freedom they’d have to put their holistic and sustainable ideals into practice. 

“We’ve got a fairly environmental management background and [are] looking at the practicalities of how that’s implemented in the real world,” Mike said. 

“This farm for us is a bit of a canvas, a bit of an experiment – how do we take a lot of the theory and put it into practice? That flows into the marmalade business and how we can continue that tradition. 

“The intention is to produce the lemons and the limes as spray free as possible and to minimise the use of things like glyphosate and things like that. We’ve got a bit of a regenerative philosophy around the land.”

They were also interested in introducing livestock in a regenerative way, Mike said, using sheep and ducks rather than mowing, and not overburdening the land with cattle. 

“That whole holistic thing was part of why we wanted to live rurally,” Nikki said. 

In fact, the couple have already acquired a trio of ducks, having adopted Caroline and Simon’s ducks Daisy, Dolly and Dilly. 

The couple said they were excited to see where the next year would take them, and they planned to take their time with the changes. 

“We’re kind of enjoying it and learning as we go,” Nikki said. 

“We weren’t looking for a business,” Mike added, “but if you take a bit more of a holistic approach, well that’s part of this.” 

And the couple were keeping in touch with Caroline and Simon, saying they were keeping them up to date with the business’ progress despite now being settled in Blenheim. 

“We really appreciate the work that Simon and Caroline have done. Our intention is to continue with that … we’re really excited about being part of the community and gradually getting to meet people,” Mike said. 

“We’re expecting to be here for quite some time.”

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air