FROM OCEAN ORGANICS TO AGRISEA
Just off of Paeroa’s main state highway, in the old Silver Fern factory, is a New Zealand business quietly creating an impact so great it has the potential to be a contributor to New Zealand farming for decades to come. AgriSea, and its products – made organically from a species of New Zealand seaweed – are having an enormous impact on the dairying, drystock, horticulture, apiculture and viticulture enterprises that are using them. AgriSea brews liquid seaweed concentrates from the native species Ecklonia radiata, which it collects sustainably from the shores of remote coastal New Zealand.
Our business started as a dream and over the years we have made our family’s dream is a reality. Find out more about our journey from humble beginnings to the successful business we are today!
Brown Seaweed is used in new products
Jill & Keith with original products
It all started on a holiday…
Many years ago Jill Bradley and Keith Atwood spent the summer visiting organic farms around New Zealand. One of the farms really ‘shone out’. Keith explains, “On almost the last farm we visited, there were no diseases – it was really phenomenal. Really beautiful, healthy and the green colour of the grass – everything was different. And their major input was seaweed. That holiday was life changing.”
The pair researched seaweeds from around the world to find out which species would be most effective as a bio-stimulant. “Then we looked at the seaweed right here in New Zealand, and there were hundreds and hundreds of different species. [Soon] we knew it was brown seaweed.
So Keith brewed all different brown seaweeds,” Jill says. Both Keith and Jill were working full time as teachers but they soon discovered the potential growth of their fledgling business. “We’d bought a rural property in Auckland and we started converting it from chemical to biological. We tried out some different things about how to grow grass, according to what we’d seen with the seaweed,” Keith says.
First shop opens in Paeroa
Products on display instore
The original brew room
Business starts to expand
A period of tenacity followed, They sold ‘the kids inheritance’ their property in Auckland and they both lived out of a shop on the main street of Paeroa with no bathroom and no hot water, as the rent was only $60 a week. But the dream always remained to make biological production a mainstream option for growers and farmers. “It started really with the kiwifruit people. So we thought, ‘we’d better research this’, because what is it going to do on a mono culture growing system? We didn’t know” Jill says.
The couple did a three-year research project from 1999 to 2001, on the effectiveness of their seaweed on five kiwifruit orchards across the Bay of Plenty and Jill says the results were “phenomenal”. Keith explains, “After six months cool storage, there was 50 percent less rot. Because of the high nutrition that the seaweed provided, it gave them longevity. “When they grow with chemicals, it does make them grow, but it makes each cell get bigger. But when grown with a high nutrient value, each cell divides. The whole fruit is growing as it should.” The business has a strong commitment to empirical research across its three primary areas of focus: soil, pasture, and livestock health, and its work has helped give valuable credibility to the emerging bio stimulant industry.
First Brew Factory
Brew room expands
Education has always been a priority
First factory purchase
Then in 2001 the company had grown significantly and it was time to move out of the main street shop and purchase some commercial property. They had found an old butter factory just off the main street of Paeroa which was an ideal place to manufacture given the large spaces and insulation ability of the building being 4 bricks thick. Then over the next few years we purchased the two buildings either side of us. Within those buildings we had brewing capacity both inside and outside, dispatch, multiple office areas, a factory shop, and education facility. In this we have hosted some 2000 people a year including some of New Zealand’s most-well known Icons, Celebrities, Farmers, Horticulture Groups, Garden Clubs, Lions and Probus Groups, Media, Politicians, and world renown Regenerative Agriculture speakers. Education to this day continues to play an important role for our company.
Agrisea New Factory
Birds eye view of the new factory
Recent expanded brew room
Bigger and better – with room to grow
In 2019 we sold our 3 factories to purchase the Ex-freezing works 3 minutes down the road from our old factory. This space giving us over 5,000sqm covered factory area along with over 80,000sqm land area including wetlands, riparian planting, an area for bee’s, an orchard and a place to run some cattle. If you ever find yourself driving through Paeroa make sure to stop into our factory shop and have a cuppa with our amazing team.