The face behind Ruth’s Gardens Microgreens, Bron Smith, has always had the hankering to own some land, plant her feet firmly on it and share it with others. She chatted with the team about getting back to the basics of growing food from scratch, being in control of what goes into it, and how it’s nurtured.
What is your company background?
Ruth’s Gardens is set on three acres of north-facing land just north of Auckland. A secluded spot where we built our home and the idea of filling every free space with bountiful gardens was hatched! You’ll need a four-wheel-drive to tackle the driveway but once past the pond and the beehives you’ll find a smattering of New Zealand natives, and you’ll start to see my vision unfold as you look beyond the orchard to the greenhouse and ever-changing garden beds.
How did you start the business?
Firstly, Ruth’s Gardens is a tribute to my amazing mum Ruth as she and my dad were once tillers of the soil too. They had an old-fashioned market garden, back in the days when the big produce companies didn’t undercut the truly authentic and more environmentally sustainable, small-scale growers. They are no longer here, but they inspire me every day.
Secondly, Ruth’s Gardens fulfils a dream that began over two years ago when I met Nick Honeyman and William Lauder, the owner/executive chef and head chef at the amazing new eatery Paris Butter in Herne Bay. After many wow produce moments shared while they were away in Europe, they returned and were still keen to pursue this symbiotic relationship which now means I can plant what they want for the menu and together we can look forward and plan for the next season. My gardens are just an extension of the Paris Butter kitchen and my husband and I love nothing more than having the chefs out here foraging and tasting whatever is ready while we discuss future crops over a glass of wine.
Currently, I produce mainly culinary herbs as my boutique style gardens are small scale (for now!) but according to the chefs, the depth of flavour from my humble herbs, seem to rise above that of my industrial sized competitors. I have no doubt this comes down to my organic and permaculture based philosophy to gardening and of course, the love that goes into carefully selecting and hand picking every leaf, stalk or bulb that is delivered each week.
What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
At the moment Fennel, Dill, Chives, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Parsley and Chervil are on the weekly delivery list but that will change just as the seasons do. Lemon Verbena plants are being over-wintered in the greenhouse, hundreds of cloves of heirloom garlic have just gone in and the beds are being prepared for some beautiful organic Borlotti beans which may feature on the menu next summer.
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
It’s really important for me to remain grounded (excuse the pun) as I have no desire to have a gardening empire. Ruth’s Gardens will remain true to its roots (another terrible pun) as my drive and Zen place comes from growing great food and knowing these truly talented chefs value and respect it as it makes its journey from my plot to their plates.