It’s been out for a while now, but we wanted to share the professional photographs and interview from Pod Gardening – celebrating Mate, and the iconic Dragicevich Shop and Orchard. See the full article on podgardening.co.nz. A taste of the pictures below. To get a taste of the fruit pop down to the store for a big bag of fresh plums – in season now.
Mate Dragicevich | Orchardist
Oratia, West Auckland, New Zealand, March 2012
“The orchard holds lots of memories for me about the traditions of my family’s life here.…” …more words below images.
My grandfather emigrated to NZ in the 1920s and worked up North as a gumdigger and on the railways. It was pretty poor in Croatia in those days and everybody just worked on the land – it was subsistence living so everyone knew about growing. He took over the orchard in 1953, him and his brothers were into following the horses and so they saw buying these 27 acres of land as security. It was passed on to my father George and his brother Mile or ‘Bushy’ as we called him – he never brushed his hair. They turned out to be hard workers and they made a good go of it.
It was always busy here when I was a boy, there was picking, packing and pruning to do – I used to collect up all the pruned twigs.
It was a good life – it was all we knew. Our social life revolved around the fruit season. The orchard always came first, it had to be kept going. You couldn’t just take a holiday. Christmas was always a big time, the whole family would get together and there would be heaps of cousins and uncles. It was quite a close community – with local dances in the Settler’s hall that was built by all the local fruit growers.
My father didn’t want me to do this but he passed on when I was 17 and so I took over the orchard with my mother Karmela.
We grow really good apples, they like the clay soil…… Rest of the Article and all the photographs on Pod Gardening. Thanks to Pod Gardening for sharing.