This feel good story starts back on Boxing Day 2020 when a hailstorm hit the normally sunny town of Motueka. Many fruit orchards were damaged including the abundant pear orchard at Motueka Steiner School.
Not wanting to see the fruits of their labour literally rot before their eyes, the school reached out to Chia Sisters who run a zero carbon, solar powered juicery in Nelson to see if they could step in and save the fruit from being a casualty of the storm.
As the pears were perfect for juicing, the Chia Sisters offered to help the school children pick the pears and purchase them to press into pure pear juice.
But they had to move fast. The school kids and the Chia Sisters team rolled up their sleeves and together picked the pears which were then pressed the following day.
The collaboration between primary school kids and a sister-run small business doesn’t end there. The delightful label of Chia Sisters Pressed Pear Juice features a plump pear drawn by 9-year old school student, Sterling, surrounded by the names of all the children who helped to pick the pears.
Chia Sisters co-founder Chloe van Dyke commented on the beautiful taste of the pears, but also the challenges in getting products such as hail-damaged fruit to consumers.
“We need to put systems in place to better deal with unexpected food waste quickly. Whilst we can quickly create a product suitable for market, there are still barriers in getting these products to consumers” said van Dyke.
Entering supermarkets at scale can often take over six months which is too long when dealing with highly perishable food items such as damaged fruit.
Fortunately for these pears, local supermarket FreshChoice Nelson placed an order on the same day the pear juice was pressed. And in the eleventh hour, Countdown agreed to stock juice from the rest of the orchard (over 8 tonnes of pears!) in all of their stores – that’s over 10,000 bottles!
And now for the pear-fect ending, for every bottle of pear juice sold, Chia Sisters are gifting $1 to Motueka Steiner School to help fund the school’s biodynamic farm – ensuring the kids continue to connect with nature and get their hands in the soil.