Trio of brothers on a mission to keep fruit and veges affordable

A trio of Northland brothers are on a mission to keep fruit and vege affordable for local families battling the cost of living crisis.

In some shops, kumara costs more than $14 a kilo.

But the Thistlewaite brothers, who are growers themselves, are selling them for less than half that price.

Jack, Ben and Joe Thistlewaite source their fruit and vege from a family-owned farm near Waipapa as well as other Northland growers, and sell direct to the public through stalls around the region.

Joe Thistlewaite told Checkpoint it was “unfair” how many people could not afford a whole food diet, and it was his goal to make veges affordable for everyone in the region.

“Up North you get the odd vege stall, but the supermarkets really have the monopoly over it all.

“I get people all the time saying they can’t afford to buy veges – kumara is a good example – and it should be a staple in people’s diet.

“We grow it in Northland, so why isn’t it cheap in Northland?”

The brothers source their kumara from Dargaville.

“They are a bit smaller than your supermarket ones, but I say they’re small and sweet.”

Kaipara Kumara sign.

Northland is the home of kumara.
Photo: RNZ / Sam Olley

For any veges they do not produce themselves,  the brothers go round local growers and try to find the cheapest price possible.

Tomatoes were currently around $15/kg in the supermarket and were often “green and lack nutrition”, he said.

“So I’ll go round growers and test them out, and can do them for around $8-$10kg.”

Community reaction had been very positive, he said. 

“Me and my two brothers have been down it for the past year and a half, and it’s been a hit.” 

The brothers planned to get stalls around Northland, from Whangarei up to Kaitaia, he said, “so everyone can shop with us and get affordable veges”.

Joe sells from the Old Packhouse Market in Kerikeri seven days a week, and his brother Jack had a stall between Paihia and Opua, as well as a Wednesday one at Coopers Beach.

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