Talking to Viberi- Horticulture

“We use the foliar spray twice a year and have been using the product for three years.”

Tony and Afsaneh Howey from ViBERi – New Zealand Organic Blackcurrant Berries are passionate about the small fruit with extremely high levels of Vitamin C. Sixteen years ago they bought a 72 hectare blackcurrant orchard two hours south of Christchurch at Pleasant Point and could see that the future of blackcurrants was about health and wellbeing.

Industry objectives called for nil spray residues on the fruit but they took it a step further and gradually converted to organics. The ambitious objective was soon dropped for commercial growers’ but ViBeri can guarantee no residues on their berries. It was soon realised there wasn’t a market waiting for them at the end – a small amount was used in Phoenix and Simply Squeezed juices so they set about creating a brand.

“All our products are based on organics and blackcurrants.” Howey said.

“We wanted a short name that indicated it’s a healthy, energising food to eat.”

ViBeri encapsulates Vitamin C, vitamins and vitality in a berry.

He said plants still need to grow – they still need nutrients and water and AgriSea Foliar Spray is one of the tools they use to achieve this.

“We use the foliar spray twice a year and have been using the product for three years.”

“We apply the AgriSea product in early and late spring and have seen good growth on our bushes not too dissimilar to non-organic,” he said.

“We’re seeing growth in our plants and not seeing any limitations like in the initial stages of converting to organics where we were seeing some stunted growth.”

He said they had to supply the nutrient needs of the plant and encouraged clover growth as much as they could. Applying the product in early spring assisted with frost management due to strengthening the cell wall of the plant.

Tony and Afsaneh have developed a range of retail products selling into the domestic market and internationally and said it has been a big journey starting a new brand and getting accepted in the retail space. They attend approximately twenty expos a year throughout the country.

Their main products are freeze dried, soft dried and dark chocolate covered blackcurrants and a powder.

“It’s really cool growing the product and selling it directly to our customers.”

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