South Canterbury’s Fallgate Farm is where it all starts for chips made in the famed Heart-land factory in Washdyke, Timaru. Potato planting begins in late August and finishes in early November and, if recent seasonal conditions are anything to go by, the latest crop is off to a great start.
“It has been a really good winter and spring to be honest,” says Raymond Bowan. He and his wife Adrienne first took up Fallgate Farm in 1975 and then later launched the family-owned Heartland Factory in October 2010, following the withdrawal of Bluebird. “Most crops went into the ground in good time.”
The farm comprises around 1300 hectares at Orari and another 200 hectares at Coldstream. Along with 250 hectares of potatoes, the farm grows wheat (400ha), barley (400ha), plus grass and other seed (150ha).
Seed is dressed at Seedlands before being sold to various commercial clients. Nearly 3000 dairy cows are also wintered on the farm from neighbouring properties. Some of Fallgate’s wheat goes out as feed while the rest is sent to the Farmers Mill at Washdyke, an independent flour producer.
Fallgate Farm is now home to a third generation of Bowans, with Adrienne and Raymond’s son, James and his wife Jess raising their three children there, Archie, 11, Maisy, 9, and Greta, 6.
James manages the day to day running of the farm, with Raymond on hand to lend advice and ideas. His energy and experience is a huge part of the Heartlands story.James’ sister Charlotte also holds a pivotal role as Heartland Potato Chips general manager.
She and her partner, Nathan, have two children, Jackson, 9, and Millie, 5. Chipper season for spuds at FallgateKim Newth“I’m really lucky to be in a position that I am through Mum and Dad having founded Heartland,” Charlotte says.
“In this role, every day is always different – I’m still learning – but I love the fact we have such a close-knit family. We can discuss anything about either farm or factory. We have regular catch-ups and I see Dad most days.”
Ray and Adrienne’s other daughter, Kate, runs her own business and, with husband Doug, has a wee girl, Victoria, and a baby boy, Angus.
Heartland Potato Chips come in three varieties – wave cut, flat cut and premium kettle cooked – and many different flavours. New flavours in the kettle cooked range include the limited edition Tokyo Tang Wasabi Mayonnaise chips released to coincide with the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The other two new releases are Thai Red Curry and Cheese & Roasted Garlic.New Zealanders have embraced the brand and the story of how the potatoes are grown and then processed by a local family in South Canterbury.
“People really want to know where their food comes from and, with Heartland, there’s full trace-ability. We’re the only New Zealand owned crisping company and that makes us so unique too.”
In May, a new packing line was installed at the factory to deliver precision flavour and consistency. “Our main priorities are to make sure we service our New Zealand market well and continue to grow greater awareness of our unique story.”
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