Business South August 2022

70 | Davis Downs Keeping up with demand Hugh de Lacy The Davis Downs farm in Makarewa, Southland, carries 3500 hazelnut trees. PRODUCTION Barely a year after acquiring their oil press and having their commercial kitchen signed off, Donna and Andrew Davis are discovering their hazelnut macrons, muffins and shortbread sales are outpacing the oil, flour and meal yielded by their nine-hectare Makarewa, Southland, hazelnut farm. The Davis’s returned from Australia three years ago looking for a new property and business in New Zealand. They fell in love with farm that carries 3500 hazelnut trees, and built up a business from the 1.2 tonnes of nuts the orchard produces annually, and today it operates as Davis Downs Homestyle Hazelnut Products. “Initially for us the trees were just a side-benefit, something we had planned to look into to see if they could provide an income,” Donna Davis says. “But we also knew that before they could we would need to build infrastructure to store the nuts correctly, and room for future processing. “With that in mind we set about building a shed big enough for those facilities, and also space for a commercial kitchen.” The shed is 13.5m x 6m but the onset of the Covid pandemic delayed the delivery of the oil press at the heart of the business. “Luckily by this stage we had already done a lot of research into hazelnuts, and I’d attended a hazelnut convention in Nelson and witnessed first-hand how other growers had been operating,” Donna says. Last year the long-awaited cold-press arrived, the commercial kitchen was signed off and the business entered the product research and development stage. That as since yielded no fewer than 14 product lines, all produced on the Makarewa property, though the nuts themselves are cracked by a Christchurch service business. Davis Downs produces the core elements of oil, flour and meal, and from there the product-line extends to include hazelnut butter, pesto, salted and roasted hazelnuts, granola, muesli bites, hazelnut brittle and bark, and the increasingly popular shortbread, macrons and muffins. The company has two principal outlets, an on-line store and the Brunei Peaks café at the foot of the Takitimu Mountains. It also supplies the Fat Duck Gastro-pub and Black Dog Bar in Te Anau, and the Hotel Montreal luxury estate in Christchurch. The business has become a no-waste operation because, after sending the ground-down shells to a laboratory for testing, the Davis’s were advised that they could be used as an exfoliant granular in cosmetics. And the business development does not stop there. “We’re currently going through the verification process for Foodstuffs/GS1 which will allow us to have product in a gourmet grocery store.” Locals helping locals has been a central theme of the Davis Downs model. “Due to Covid and the ongoing impacts on logistics and supply, everyone has become aware of how important it is to support and shop local,” Donna says. “This has been our biggest driving factor: people and businesses want to actively seek out and promote locally-grown products. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the ongoing support of Samantha Williams at Jolly Elephant Design, who’s the brains behind the on-line store, the team at Lorneville Small Engines for keeping the machinery going, Shane Harold at Fertiliser Wholesale for his advice on soil and leaf analysis, and Nathan McMillan from Fiordland Canvas and Sails for designing and manufacturing our harvest bags and marketing props.” Fert Wholesale Direct Ltd Farmers, are you concerned about improving your fertiliser efficiency and environmental footprint? Then Fert Wholesale Direct Ltd can help, as we have helped Davis Downs. The ONE System which through independent trials shows a doubling of response to N. And more recently, our Revolutionary Compound Urea/SOA product where every granule contains both forms of N. Contact Shane Harold on 021 0235 6491 or 021 434 266 2 Caswell Rd, Te Anau ∙ Manufacturing & Repairs ∙ Marine & Automotive ∙ Upholstery & Covers ∙ Bags, Sails, Shade Proudly supporting Davis Downs