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Tina Weng, Cucumber Grower
There is a great, long-term future for growing cucumbers
Tina and her family moved to New Zealand in 2002, when she was just 14 years old. Tina was born and raised in Tainan City, Taiwan. Early in 2002 the family decided they would immigrate to New Zealand, the prospect of a better life and good education system were the reasons Tina’s parents chose New Zealand.Tina went to school in Auckland, she completed a Bachelor of International Hospitality Management in Accommodation, Food and Beverage from AUT in 2012
Nearly three years ago, well known cucumber grower, Neil Yearbury, sold his business in Drury, South Auckland. The business was bought by a family friend of the Weng family. At the time Tina, and her husband Randhir Tiwari, were living and working in Christchurch. The new owner did not wish to grow herself, and needed someone she trusted to run the growing operation. Tina was asked if she would be interested in growing cucumbers. With no previous experience growing, the decision was made to accept the position and move back to Auckland. An additional incentive was Tina’s mother lives in Auckland, so it meant she could be close to her.
When Neil, an extremely good grower, sold the business it was producing superb yields. Neil agreed to guide and mentor Tina, and pass on his vast wealth of growing knowledge. Tina learnt very quickly, the systems Neil had in place were excellent which made it easier for her. Tina has been growing for two and half years, supplying telegraph cucumbers from three greenhouses totalling an area of 4000 m2. She has been able to maintain Neil’s very high standards and good production. The property is served by one glasshouse and two plastic houses, it is heated by a gas boiler.
Tina is employed by ZZ Investments Ltd, they supply most of their produce to be marketed by Fresh Direct. They don’t sell all of their cucumbers and have supplied cucumbers to charities such as McDonald house, Tzu Chi Foundation and school fundraising events.
It is obvious to see why Tina and Randhir are continuing to be successful. The crop in this house is well balanced, the pest and disease levels are well under control.
What do you find most challenging about growing?
“I have faced many challenges since I started working in this business. This career is totally different compared to my previous jobs. For example, how to identify diseases, how to maintain the production, greenhouse maintenances, tractor services etc. There have been many new skills that I have had to learn.”
What do you like most about growing?
“Watching the plants grow, from when they are first planted until they are mature plants with cucumbers on them. You feel a sense of achievement, especially when you see eighteen-inch cucumbers. I also feel great when the boss visits us and appreciates our work. All these incentives drive us to provide safe and tasty cucumbers to the market”.
How do you feel about the future of growing Cucumbers?
“There is a great, long-term future for growing cucumbers, but need more young people to become involved in this industry, as well as need to bring new technical skill in.”
Close internodal distance is a feature of this crop. Maximum numbers of fruit to the wire are achieved.
Not only has Tina totally changed her career to become a greenhouse manager, but she has recently had her first child, who is now 14 months of age. Tina is a strong, determined young women who is focussed. The juggling act of being a young mum and working full time is one thing, but to be fairly new to an industry like growing, producing high performing crop yields, 365 days a year is definitely an amazing achievement, one I fully respect.
Most of Tina’s free time is spent with her family, she likes to relax and loves watching movies, listening to music and if she has time to go out and socialise with her friends.
Cover photo is Tina with her husband Randhir Tiwari.
A new crop has recently been planted in the Glasshouse. Information from the weigh scales along with water content meters are used to determine the irrigation strategy. Stone-wool is used as the growing media. Young plants supplied by Gellert Nurseries Ltd.
Randhir also run's the pack house opertation.
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Article Written by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower