The World's First 100% Electric, Zero Fossil Fuel Orchard.
Forest Lodge Orchard is a 6 hectare, high density cherry orchard in Central Otago, New Zealand that operates without burning any fossil fuels. We believe we are the first commercial food grower in the world to achieve this goal. Everything from irrigation, frost fighting, vehicles and tools are powered through New Zealand's highly renewable grid and through our own power that we generate and store using our extensive solar and battery array.
The climate is a key focus in what we do, and we believe New Zealand's future as a food producing nation will excel with our ability to grow and produce food in a highly sustainable and climate friendly way.
In January 2022, we completed our first harvest which was sold through Farro Fresh supermarkets in Auckland. This small harvest proved consumers were willing to pay a 15% premium for fresh produce they saw as a systematic behavioural change in the name of the climate.
On top of this, we want to be a business that supports New Zealand's drive for Carbon Zero 2050. We actively export power back to the national grid, helping contribute to its renewablity and reliability and support the initiative for a 100% renewable grid by 2030.
Growing & producing zero-emission cherries
Forest Lodge is a 6 hectare cherry orchard with just over 9300 cherry trees grown using the Upright Fruiting Offshoots (UFO) training system.
This 2D system was selected for its high production output, combined with its ease of operation. We need less energy and fewer inputs to produce high quantities of top quality New Zealand Cherries.
We need our cherries to be amongst the best in New Zealand, while also giving the consumer a new choice in the market; the chance to choose a climate positive product.
We grow our cherries with zero emissions, and our 9300 cherry trees and 6 ha of land provide carbon sequestration.
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. We can irrigate, train and maintain our trees using less land, less energy and water, while allowing greater growth with higher levels of light inception.
An extra 15% light inception and a more intensive growing system allows for a 50% to 100% increase in yield per hectare.
We are big on solar and battery technology, as well as interactions with New Zealand’s largely renewable national grid. In 2021 we won the Sustainable Energy Association of New Zealand award for the best grid-connected system.
Our goal is to produce enough power to run our everyday operations when season and weather permits, and to interact smartly with New Zealand's national grid to buy extra power when we need it and when it's renewable, and sell it when we have a surplus through our own custom-built software. We aim to have zero net energy while keeping the incremental payback of electric technology within 10 years.
No fossil fuels means the latest in electrification technology, and some fine kiwi-ingenuity is required.
New Zealand's first electric frost fighting fans,
New Zealand's first electric tractor (due November 2022),
Customised golf carts for orchard operations,
Electric ride on mower,
Electric heat pumps for heating and hot water,
Electric irrigation systems, and
A suite of electric orchard tools
All powered primarily by the Central Otago sun for upwards in 80 Tonnes of emissions per year.
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 of some amazing suppliers in Central Otago.
Special thanks to Earnscy Weaver from Weaver Horticulture, Ben Van Gool from Lake Terrace Cherries and Tim Hope from Centralpac for their strong horticulture advice.
We appreciate the support for our renewable vision from Contact Energy, Aurora Energy, BNZ, The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), the Otago Regional Council and the Central Otago District Council. This is only possible with the enthusiastic support of leading visionaries within these organisations.