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  • Writer's pictureMike Casey

Recapping the world's first zero fossil fuel harvest

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

We have just had a well earned break following a mammoth effort by so many of our team and supporters, and it's finally time to share our experience on harvesting over 2 tonnes of cherries without fossil fuels.

Up until the 27th of December, we had achieved our goal of growing commercial quantities of export quality cherries without fossil fuels. Now our goal was to see how far down the supply chain our zero fossil fuel mantra could stretch.

Picking Cherries from UFO trees

Traditionally, cherries are hand picked in New Zealand. We pick cherries with the stem for the New Zealand and export markets. There was no need to eliminate fossil fuels at this stage, because there is very little automation or machinery.

Note: In the USA there is some automation with vibrating cherries off trees. Cherries lose their stems in this process, and so degrade faster. However, the large market in the US allows for fast turn around to the customer.

Upright Fruiting Offshoots (UFO) orchards are designed to be pedestrian orchards. The goal is to grow a 2D wall of offshoots that make it as easy as possible to harvest a crop.

Bucket Running

To support our pickers, we had a series of "bucket runners" who were responsible for providing empty buckets to them and taking their full buckets back to the shed and into the 500kg cherry crate. We were able to electrify this process entirely using our upgraded golf carts and trailers.

Electric golf cart with tray and trailer full of 5kg buckets of cherries driving towards the shed
Carting buckets of cherries using an electric golf cart and trailer

Transporting to the Packhouse

From here, we loaded the buckets by hand into the crate, loaded the crate onto the trailer with our electric forklift, and then finally attached the trailer to a Model S Telsa that could tow it down the road to the pack house!

A personal thanks to Johnny from , a kindred spirit who drove up from Dunedin to tow our cherries down to the pack house without using fossil fuels!

It was great that electric forklifts were also available at Centralpac (our pack house) and they could unload our cherry bins. The pack house runs fully on grid electricity (albeit with a backup diesel generator), so we could eliminate fossil fuels until they were loaded in a truck to drive to Auckland.

The great news is zero fossil fuel trucks have landed in New Zealand. We hope it's only a few years before we can get our produce fossil fuel free!

In Farro Fresh Stores

And here is how they looked in Farro Fresh from late December through until early January. We were stoked to hear they moved well on the shelves and that customers were willing to pay a little more for a climate friendly product. You can see more consumer brand and sales information through our NZ Zero website. NZ Zero is our zero fossil fuel consumer brand.

We hope this harvest is only the beginning for Zero Fossil Fuel food in New Zealand and around the world.

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