Young New Zealand farming couple growing the Andean superfood, quinoa in Taihape
A little experiment with a superfood has turned into a win-win business for a young farming couple.
Words and Photos: Jo Bates
Dan Cottrell is getting a kick out of growing an Andean superfood in Taihape. He and wife Jacqui are the pioneers of growing the ancient seed quinoa favoured for its protein-packed power punch in the heart of rural New Zealand.
“It’s pretty exciting doing something new, I’m really getting a kick out of what started as an experiment. And it’s just great to see that everyone around us has been so enthusiastic – the response in the market has been fantastic,” says Dan. “When suppliers learn that they can get quinoa grown here by a New Zealand farmer, they think it’s great. We get a lot of satisfaction from that as well.”
Dan and Jacqui harvested their first commercial crop of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) last year from a 3ha site planted on Dan’s family’s sheep and beef farm north-west of Taihape.
“We sowed our first crop in spring and by the time it was harvested we pretty much had a home for it,” says Dan.
The seed was snapped up by Sabato, an Auckland purveyor of fine foods.
“They took it all and it’s supplied to the restaurant trade through them.”
The seed for their new-found business was planted while Dan and Jacqui were on their ‘big OE’, which included travelling through South America where the seed has been a food staple for thousands of years. The idea slowly germinated until taking root in test trials at the farm in 2014.
After years of hard work, Dan says it has been rewarding to see their quinoa find its way into some of New Zealand’s leading lodges, including Huka Lodge, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers and Blanket Bay. Their second crop covered 10ha and was harvested a few weeks ago.