The Roberts family first stepped foot onto Earnscleugh soil, Queens Birthday weekend 1961. Harry was eleven at the time and left school when sixteen and bought his first shares in Roberts and Sons Orchard 6 months later. He married Joan in 1971 and they have three children.
Roberts and Sons had four properties from McIntosh Road to MacPherson Road producing a wide range of horticultural and fruit crops over several soil types ranging from barren stony gravels to rich heavy loams.
In 1978 the brother partnership split up, the MacPherson Road property was sold and Harry & Joan purchased the remaining three.
Since then, Harry & Joan have worked these three properties and have expanded the operation by purchasing a further 230 hectare block known as "Fishtail" in 2001. This block has about 20 ha of land available for orchard development with the balance being a wonderful example of Central Otago schist hill country.
The business is very family oriented with two of the three children now involved. Harry Jnr and Vicky both work in the orchard covering a vast variety of different duties. Harry Jnr is married to Tasha and they have 4 children, three boys and a girl.
The orchard operation now consists of 4 blocks of which 3 are owned and 1 leased.
- Home Block at McIntosh Road consists of 22ha including an extensive packhouse, coolstores, office and two homes.
Plantings in this block include Plums, Peaches, Nectarines, Pears, and Cherries.
- Stall Block on Earnscleugh Road consists of 6.7ha planted in Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Nectarines.
- Fishtail Block has 8ha currently planted in Apricots, plums and a variety of nursery trees. This block is being extensively developed and will soon have around 12 ha of plantings that will produce a variety of early and late season fruit including apricots, cherries and plums.
- Earnscleugh No 1 Block on MacPherson Road is leased. This has 14.8ha of cherries, nectarines and apricots.
- Overall area of around 50ha of mixed fruit production.
During the peak of the cherry season we can employ upward of 100 staff.
We have a permanent staff of around 15 who complete a variety of duties from tree pruning to weed spraying to pest management.
The packhouse usually finishes about mid-May with some pear packing for the local market during winter. It will start up again early to mid December for cherry packing.
During this current season we have despatched just over 1000 pallets of fruit to export or local markets.
Owners: Harry and Joan Roberts
Orchard Manager: Harry Roberts Snr
Packhouse Manager: Joan Roberts
Packhouse Quality Control: Joan Roberts
Packhouse foreman/Supervisor: Joan Roberts
Pest Management: Neville Annan
Orchard Operations: Harry Roberts Jnr
Orchard Foremen/Supervisors: Sue Maynard, Harry Roberts Snr, Harry Roberts Jnr, Carol Lee, Fred Ryan
Quality Control: Vicky Roberts
Office & Management systems: Eric Hooks
Inside/Outside Maintenance: Harry Roberts Jnr & Snr, Phil Bagnall
Forklift Operator: Andy Stade