Niue Fresh Case Study

With its lack of suitable soil for traditional growing, exceptionally clean water, and a need for fresh produce that has not travelled a long way by sea, the island of Niue, was the perfect place for a Hydroponic growing system.

Mark and Pauline Blumsky, along with local fisherman James Douglas, (Niue Fresh) approached PGO Horticulture about starting a Hydroponic venture, toward the end of 2011. A water test supplied by them, showed Niue to have some of the lowest Sodium water we have seen, making a recirculating NFT system for salad lines, an ideal method.

Starting out with a "trial" smaller system, so as to become accustomed to the day to day requirements, they quickly became able to produce good Lettuce of several varieties, along with a range of herbs, and a Tomato system also. With demand much greater than the ability to supply, the system increased gradually in size, and now has several employees, with product supplied to both the Matavei resort and a range of the islands cafes and restaurants.

The system now comprises of multiple smaller systems with automated dosing systems, that allow both flexibility of crop and also isolation from each other, with Lettuces, Herbs, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Capsicums, Eggplant, and Cabbages being supplied to a willing local market. Previously these crops were either unavailable, or available only in the week after the monthly boat visit, which meant that the freshness and quality was not as high as Niue Fresh can supply.

The island has thrown up its own set of unique challenges, such as cyclones, and also insects, that have all required solutions. Much of the system can be "pulled down" and packed away if a cyclone is pending (it helps that James's wife works at the Met office). Control of the insects has been obtained through a mixture of "softer/cleaner" options and strict cultural practices, as residuals of toxic sprays are to be avoided on the island.

PGO Horticulture Ltd has worked with Niue Fresh to assist in the design/supply of the systems, and has specific nutrient mixes to suit their range of crops, under their growing conditions. Product is sent by ship each month from New Zealand, including the nutrients, growing media (Coir, Vermiculite and Rockwool ), packaging, seed, sprays, sanitizers, and a large range of products to maintain their systems, that seem to be continually expanding to maximise the area available.

PGO Horticulture Ltd is proud to have been involved with Niue Fresh, and consider the supply of fresh nutritious produce on the island is in good hands. If visiting Niue to make the most of the spectacular world renown underwater clarity, or extremely relaxed lifestyle, be sure to visit the Niue Fresh outlet in Alofi, and say Neville sent you.

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