While you’re sipping your morning coffee and reading the paper, Christopher and Jenny Gray are probably already out on their property along with pickers, harvesting their asparagus crop – those green spears of deliciousness that we wait all winter for.
“Our asparagus season begins on 1 October and goes through to the end of the year,” says Christopher whose family has farmed in the Motukarara area for four generations. “The soil here is high in sodium and eminently suitable for growing asparagus of the very best quality.”
The Grays planted their ﬁrst bed of asparagus in 2003 and maintain their strict quality control from ﬁeld to grading shed. They are immensely proud of their product and stand behind every single bunch. No rubber bands hold these spears together, instead they are bound up with tape bearing the Grays’ name and address. “The tape says ‘This is our asparagus.’
The asparagus is sold at farmers’ markets in Lincoln, Lyttleton Rudolf Steiner School grounds, Ombersley Terrace Opawa, and of course at the farm gate – 1905 SH75 (the Christchurch to Akaroa Road). In addition, you can find the Grays’ asparagus on the menu at several top Canterbury restaurants, including the award-winning Roots in Lyttelton.
While tender, slim asparagus spears are traditionally sought after, Jenny says some people prefer the wider ﬂeshier tips instead.
“Every growing season is a little different, but we always have sufficient product to supply the farmers’ markets and to supply MG’s Packhouse which sends the asparagus on to supermarkets.”