Value Added Mushrooms


Value added ideas for Wairarapa

Finance minister Grant Robertson has argued the Wairarapa could develop value added agricultural businesses. Mushrooms growing for more than 50 years at Parkvale in Carterton illustrate what could be achieved.

Clive Thompson has been operating his own mushroom business in a small piece of land. Locals visit his farm to buy retail packs of flats and button mushrooms. Locals are also able to purchase self-grow kits and visit the web site,, to obtain some recipes. Pickled mushrooms are popular in Japan and Wairarapa consumers may wish to try a Japanese recipe with 225 grams of Parkvale button mushrooms. Blanch briefly in lightly salted water and place in a wide-mouthed lidded jar. Make a brine from 1 cup of rice vinegar, 1 cup of water, pinch of salt, pinch of white pepper, pinch of black pepper, pinch of mace and cover the mushrooms. Place the lid on and leave in a dark cool place for 2 weeks. They will keep for 3 weeks in a refrigerator in an airtight container.

Grow your own

Interested people may purchase Parkvale mushroom kits which are compost containing mycelium and peat. Grower instructions which are included in the kit say put the peat mix on the compost, cover with plastic without sealing, and leave for one to two weeks until the mycelium has grown through the peat. Then remove the plastic and keep in a slightly drying and dark place, watering lightly. There are 7 to 10 days between flushes. Water well once you are picking. Pick by twisting to avoid damaging the surface. Keep the surface moist down to the bottom of the peat. The bucket should produce for a couple of months or more.

Wikipedia says Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus or fungus-like bacterial colony, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelium are found in and on soil and many other substrates.

Other products for the Japanese market

When Grant Robertson spoke to Talking Business about options in value added agriculture he did not give particular examples. Mushrooms are not the only example, Japanese demand for daikon radishes are another. Daikon are a popular pickle in Japan, and Moore Wilson of Masterton stock locally grown daikon already. There are other examples of well-seasoned vegetables that could be sold to local and Japanese consumers.

When I was based in Japan I identified these uses of local products from the book The Well-Flavored Vegetable as some possible options. Lotus root, Chinese cabbage in brine, garlic pickled in miso, rakkyo onions, takuan (fermented daikon) pickle, umoboshi, cucumber kimchee, apple – plums in honey, garlic in molasses, kimchee peppers, cherries in white liquor and other products such as piquant chicken livers which include sake, onion and garlic.

Daikon a Japanese radish is a mild-flavoured winter radish (Raphanus sativus variety (cultivar) ‘Longipinnatus’) usually characterized by fast-growing leaves and a long, white root. Organic Daikon Radish is available from Auckland based Kings Seeds

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Publishing plans for DecisionMaker Wairarapa economic development editions are being laid, possible sponsorship and topics are being identified.




Big is not necessarily beautiful

Greytown Main Street streetscape is set up with heritage principles and there are community organisations that feel strongly about it. Street lights in Greytown were changed to a heritage style coloured dark green to fit with the ambiance of the town. There is a restricted colour palette for buildings in the main street to fit in with the general preferred heritage style and there are guidelines for signage for businesses. Building heights are restricted to fit with the height of the heritage buildings.

In August a plan was put forward by a developer which included a 4-storey apartment block to replace existing buildings which include the Greytown Little Theatre. A petition was circulated asking “Is this what we want for our beautiful heritage town?” which questioned features of the proposed building which do not seem to match heritage principles.

Community Advocates

The Greytown Heritage Trust ( reported that the resource consent application for the development proposed for 68 Main Street, Greytown had not been accepted as being complete by South Wairarapa District Council. The developer Mr Pilbrow has been asked to provide more detailed plans, along with further heritage assessment and information on compliance with the District Plan. Council awaited a resubmitted resource consent application for the site. The Trust has been inundated with calls from members of the community asking what they can do to limit the scale of the 4 level development on the site of the former Greytown Little Theatre in Main Street.

Impetus for Change

Alisoun Werry recalls that it was the threatened demolition of the historic Kouka Cottage on Main St (formerly known as Cabbage Tree Cottage) that provided the impetus for the organisation. The Trust then set its sights on improving the aesthetics of the town hall after its 1970s makeover and called a public meeting to encourage community engagement. In 2011 the town hall was fully restored. The trust began working with SWDC to create an historic precinct in Greytown, running from the Kuratawhiti/Jellicoe Streets intersection in the north to Wood Street further south. Alisoun says this was an important step in establishing a pattern of consultation between the council and the trust.

The trust receives regular notifications from the council about proposals affecting Greytown’s historic Main Street, ranging from alterations to existing houses and commercial buildings to new dwellings and signage.  The trust consults with its own advisors and reports back to council.

Alisoun Werry and Carmel Ferguson are active Greytown advocates for the work of the Hertitage Trust.

To find out more

Publishing plans for DecisionMaker Wairarapa economic development editions are being laid, possible sponsorship and topics are being identified.

Visions for Growing Older in Greytown

OrchardThe Orchard retirement community project was reported in June in the Times Age following the sale of Murphy’s fruit orchard in Reading Street Greytown. Developer, Mr Craig Percy, lives in Auckland and has family in the Wairarapa. The Times Age reported that the project will be a joint venture between him, a retirement village operator and Tumu group. According to their website Tumu group, based in Hastings, is an independent supplier of timber and associated products for the building and packaging industries in New Zealand, with wider investments in various sectors such as finance, property and manufacturing.

Talking business recognised that this may impact existing services provided by Arbor House the local rest home in Greytown. Arbor House was asked for comment and felt at this point it was too early for conclusions to be made.

Impact on Arbor House

However, in a written statement Rob Tuckett, chair of Arbor House board of trustees, said “The prospect of an extensive “Orchard Retirement Village” in Greytown is now clearly a reality. This must result in very considerable changes to the pattern of provision of age-related residential care, not only in Greytown but in the South Wairarapa as a whole. These changes must impact most directly on Arbor House, our community owned not-for-profit rest home and hospital. While recognising that Orchard Development Plan will secure the future for aged residential care in our area, Arbor House is very aware that there will be challenges to be met in the process. The Board of Trustees are of course fully committed to maintaining the high quality of care provided at Arbor house, as well as ensuring the security of employment of our staff.”

Talking business has taken soundings on the project and while this was a very welcome development was advised that the developer would need to have a strong capital base.

Consultation Called For

Community sources told the column that it would be desirable for consultation to occur about the project which could include discussion about the need to include people of all ages and backgrounds. The development may mean an influx of a lot more people aged over 70 to Greytown a change from its current mixed-age character. Consultation should guide the development of the project. One community member said that rather than moving they would like services delivered to their current homes. These may be publicly funded services or services they pay for themselves.

Some local people anticipate that “The Orchard project” is likely to be similar to those in Waikanae where residents purchase or lease a dwelling or serviced apartment. These generally constitute stand-alone houses, serviced apartments and in due course care home facilities including hospital and dementia level care.

We understand that the climate financially in which the smaller rest homes are now operating in most of the smaller towns in New Zealand is making their viability and sustainability increasingly doubtful. For example, locally the recent total closure of the Ultimate Care facility in East Street has brought this into sharp focus.

The development of a large facility, such as The Orchard presents, is a completely new development for the South Wairarapa. Such a development would also clearly need to look outside the immediate area to find potential purchasers. Developments such as the ones in Waikanae cater for large numbers of people perhaps in excess of 100 units.

Though this looks to be a significant development for Greytown the residents in our community will need reassuring that this as well as the other apparently planned extension of the town can be managed with the existing water and sewerage infrastructure.


New Settlers

Ata Rangi

Gerald Hensley is a living advertisement for the Wairarapa and for those who want to attract people to live here.

‘Juliet’ is named in honour of a special friend who exemplified elegance, charisma, grace and style – qualities we feel are also well expressed in this wine from her family vineyard. It was a pleasure to officially recognise its release with her husband and daughters, and raise a glass in fond remembrance of her.

Gerald Hensley came to the Wairarapa for it’s work opportunities, retirement lifestyle and the wide sky which reminds him of the Canterbury he grew up in. He spoke at the recent Booktown event in Featherston. The event was so popular that there was no room for late comers. His books include Friendly Fire in which he talks about the cast of characters with whom he has worked.

Before coming to live and work in Martinborough, Gerald Hensley held a number of senior public service roles including head of the Prime Minister’s Department under Sir Robert Muldoon and David Lange before being appointed Secretary of Defence. Early in his career as a foreign service officer he played significant roles in the establishment of modern independent Samoa.

Gerald says Martinborough, where he lives, has good land for growing grapes and making wine. Land which was marginal for sheep farming is good for growing vines. Soil quality is important and while water can be bought from the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and water is available from the Ruamahanga river, vineyards don’t need vast irrigation.

Labour needs fluctuate, but there is no need for special steps to open more labour. Current sources of labour include those on working holidays from North America and Europe, particularly Germany and France. At this stage he sees no need for increasing the Pacific Island workforce. Reducing costs is a more important issue for the industry and global transport connections continue to be an important consideration.