A Miranda couple turned an old citrus orchard into a productive garden, café and gallery
Annie and Shaun Wilson stress the importance of having multiple income streams.
Words: Sheryn Dean
Who: Annie & Shaun Wilson, Miranda Farm
Where: Miranda, 1 hour’s drive south-east of Auckland
What: café, orchard, art gallery
Miranda Farm has evolved considerably in the 20 years since Annie and Shaun Wilson bought the 5ha block on the south-east coast of the Firth of Thames.
The couple has developed several income streams, including a café and an art gallery.
The block was originally a functioning but neglected citrus orchard. They were picking two tonnes of citrus each week, and the exhausting work prompted Annie to consider what she really loved doing. That was cooking healthy food, and the idea for a café was born.
Annie believes in using fresh organic produce, so it was logical to grow their own. The vegetable garden now covers nearly 1000m² and produces all the greens used in their dishes, all year round.
Annie also has a love for fine art. She initially held open days each Labour Weekend, attracting thousands of visitors to see the sculptures nestled in her garden. Soon, sculptures were on display for sale, and artists with indoor pieces were asking for gallery space. The art gallery was born.
The original citrus orchard remains, producing a range of fruit varieties from June through to the following May. It has been extended to include plums (the most profitable), stone and pip fruit, grapes, guavas, figs (very popular), feijoa, passionfruit, persimmon, tamarillo, nashi, mulberries, and avocadoes.
Surplus greens, fruit, and other vegetables are sold to café customers fresh or as jams and chutneys, or taken to the farmers’ market in Parnell.
The café is popular with locals, who enjoy good coffee and healthy food options. Business increases in the summer months when tourists flock to the nearby beach, hot pools, and cycle trail. The same tourists appreciate the fine art gallery, and the sculpture displays in the garden.
The business has evolved through necessity into something they enjoy and in response to customer demand. The diverse income stream is important, says Annie.
If one fails for any reason, there’s something else to take its place. Plus, there’s always something healthy, ready to eat, all year round.