$ummary: A project to establish about 1/4 acre of kiwi berries, a relatively new and exciting crop to the northeast. The goal funds alone will allow me to purchase most of the lumber needed to built the trellis system, and allow me establish a small commercial kiwi farm. Extra cash over the goal will be used to purchase the full amount of trellis lumber and wire, planting stock, irrigation supplies, and enough soil amendments to cover the early years before fruiting begins.
About Kiwis: The hardy kiwi berry is a member of the kiwi family with fruit the size of a large grape. The skin is good to eat, and the flavor is similar to a common kiwi except that the berry is even sweeter. Berries picked at optimal time can store for weeks and the edible skin allows for easy processing into fruit leather or jam. Although small commercial plantings do exist in the US, production is not keeping pace with demand as more and more people discover this northern delight. The vines are pest and disease free, lending well to organic cultivation. One vine can produce over 100 lbs of fruit annually age 10-50+. Vines are trained to an overhead pergola trellis, made of long lasting black locust wood, which allows the berry clusters to hang down at about head level.
Location: Brimfield, MA home of antique shows, nearby springfield, ma.
Timeline: 2013: build the trellis before winter. Early soil preparation. 2014: kiwis planted in the spring.
Big Picture: Small Farm: Kiwi berries may someday be a central aspect of a 2 acre exotic fruit farm. The yet unnamed farm is being loosely modeled on Daring Drake - Upstate NY . Some initial design work has been done with the guidance of Jono Neiger - Regenerative Design Group
Risks and challenges
Although I am confident in a high probability of these vines producing fruit within 7 years and continuing for 40 or more years, farming is inherently risky.
Risks of Trellis:
- Too many rocks to dig post holes by hand, forced to rent machine
- Heavily loaded vines pull trellis down
- A tornado destroys everything
- I am sold bad quality wood
Risks of Cultivation:
- Kiwis yield lower than expected
- Large amount of maintenance (pruning, weeding, harvesting, fertilizing) is uneconomical
- A new pest or disease emerges and can't be controlled
Risks in Distribution:
- Can't sell enough through wholesale and retail
- Board of health rules change making sale of home preserved fruit leather illegal (commercial kitchens are an expensive option)
- A large scale kiwi farm opens nearby thus flooding the market
- (30 days)