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Local Christchurch farm’s worst season in 48 years

Campbell Macpherson
Pataka Berries Campbell Macpherson 4/4
Pataka Berries  Campbell Macpherson/NZBS

An early frost has caused Pataka Berries to have its worst season in over 48 years.

Pataka Berries, a local farm in Christchurch, specializes in raspberries and tomatoes. This season though, production has been brought to a freeze. An early frost hit the farm causing a large majority of the tomato crops to become damaged. According to the one of the owners of the farm, Ian Johnston, it wasn’t just one frost doing the damage.

"We’ve had very unseasonable frost starting mid-March, we’ve had three now which have virtually killed the plants." 

There is still some fruit that has survived though with some of the crop not being fully ripe yet. Tomatoes have been on the farm since before the Second World War when Ian’s grandfather planted them. Ian is the fourth-generation owner of the farm. His great grandfather bought the land from the first mayor of Christchurch, William ‘Cabbage’ Wilson, and started the farm in 1909.

Pataka Berries Tomatoes Campbell Macpherson 4/4
Tomato Field at Pataka Berries CAMPBELL MACPHERSON/NZBS

On the Pataka Berries website, a notice says they are unable to take orders as they don’t know if they will be able to supply them. There are also no pre-picked tomatoes due to how the season has been. Customers are still able to go to the farm and pick their own tomatoes, with one still able to get the tomatoes they needed.

"Since the tomatoes are in season this time of year, I usually make batches of tomato sauce and get my tomatoes from Pataka.

"Even though the season had been bad I was still able to get enough for the sauce I want to make." 

Pataka Berries also have frozen berries available, but the poor tomato season has affected production for the farm according to Ian. Thankfully, this week has been the best it’s been all season. When Metro News went to Pataka Berries farm, there were multiple people in the field picking tomatoes. Ian was very happy that there were still tomatoes that could be picked.

The farm is located at 768 Marshlands Road and there is an onsite shop where you are able to purchase the tomatoes and frozen berries. There are still tomatoes in the field and the season is still ongoing.