Welcome to Forest Lodge Orchard
Forest Lodge Orchard is a high density cherry orchard in Central Otago, New Zealand. We have a unique goal of growing cherries with 100% renewable energy, because we believe a small carbon footprint for food production is key to countering climate change.
We are electrifying everything, from our irrigation pumps, our frost fighting fans to our electric vehicles, and supporting all this equipment with a large solar and battery array.
Our primary goal is not fossil fuels used in a season, and we expect to achieve this for our first commercial crop in the 2022/2023 summer. Our second goal is to generate enough power to have a net zero energy bill for an entire season. We will do this with solar generation, as well as buying power when it is cheap, and selling it back during times of conjestion.
Growing & producing renewable cherries
Forest Lodge is a 6 hectare cherry orchard which has just over 9600 cherry trees grown using the Upright Fruiting Offshoots (UFO) training system.
This 2D system was selected for its high production output, combined with its easy operation requirements. We need less energy and fewer inputs to produce high quantities of top quality New Zealand Cherries.
We are also exploring a range of projects to improve operational efficiency, ranging from companion crops for pest control through to more efficient and faster pollination of blossoms. Our renewable cherries need to be the best cherries.
Upright Fruit Offshoots
UFO is a high density growing system where trees are trained on a 2D wire trellis with upright offshoots that produce the cherries.
This allows us to plant 1650 trees per hectare over the traditional 666 per hectare. This allows us to irrigate, train and maintain our trees using less land energy and less water while allowing for greater growth with higher levels of light inception.
We are big on solar and battery technology, as well as interactions with New Zealand’s largely renewable national grid.
Our goal is to produce enough power to run our everyday operations when season and weather permits, and interact smartly with New Zealand's national grid to buy extra power when we need it and sell it when we have a surplus.
We have written our own custom software to import power when there is an abundance and it is cheap, and likewise if we have spare power in our batteries we can export it to help the grid during times of congestion.
No fossil fuels means the latest in electrification is required. Electric farm vehicles, tractors, frost fighting fans.
With electric technology, everything working closely together is greater than the sum of the individual parts. We are building systems to ensure we know the input and output of every electrical component we use and utilising batteries that are sitting idle to power other operations.
More energy, less waste.
Scroll to learn more about Forest Lodges recent activities and timelines
Founding of Forest Lodge Orchard
A 6 hectare cherry orchard using the upright fruiting offshoots (UFO) growing strategy
Ground broken & bore drilled
Consent to drill granted and struck water on first drilling attempt
Our dream would not be a reality without the help from some amazing suppliers in Central Otago, that we will blog about regularly as we go.
Special thanks to Earnscy Weaver from Weaver Horticulture, Ben Van Gool from Lake Terrace Cherries and Tim Hope from Centralpac for their growing advice.
We appreciate the support for our renewable vision from Contact Energy, Auorra, BNZ, The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), the Otago Regional Council and the Central Otago District Council. This is only made possible with the enthusiastic support from great visionaries within these organisations..