Hawke's Bay has many well-known features but it also has some hidden gems that even locals don't know much about. We are searching for those tiny bits of magic. They could be people who are quietly doing wonderful things, businesses or tourism ventures that are relatively undiscovered. Hawke's Bay Today wants to celebrate the successful things happening in our region and that is what this series is about.
Fresh bounty from the fertile fields of Hawke's Bay ... and good old-fashioned honesty and trust ... what a combination.
A real gem if you like.
I spotted one during a fruit and vege sortie the other afternoon after hearing someone (from outside the Bay) remarking that we are blessed in this part of the land with produce that cuts out the transportation middle man.
From the earth straight to the shelf at the front gate.
It was a solidly home-built stand with a fine top ... like the sort of roof you see over a wishing well.
It was along the straight between Mangaterere and Clive and declared that bags of plums and apples were available for $4.
And very large and fine bags they were too.
At the edge of the stand was a small plastic box with a slot cut in the top for the passing buyers to drop their coins into ... and a check showed people had been doing just that.
I also spotted one last week on Napier Rd on the way out to Havelock North, and there used to be one out Bay View way ... it may still be there.
They are like the little roadside shops kids set up at their front gates ... selling the lemons or plums or whatever that are growing on the trees around the back.
Some may squirm at the dear old title adopted by this part of the world - the fruitbowl of New Zealand - but take a drive through Pakowhai or Meeanee and the outskirts of Hastings and there is no denying it.
Blessed for freshness and variety? Blessed is nowhere near strong enough. So this is not about a hidden gem, it is about gems, plural, and indeed some of them are a little hidden.
I spotted a chap, relaxed in a chair and under the shade of a canopy he had attached to his utility, along Napier Rd, and he was selling fruit and vege from the tray of the ute.
There was another one closer to the Havelock North end and there's always a few out Anderson Park way in Napier.
Along stretches of Meeanee Rd and Powdrell Rd, it's almost like a market day ... every day.
The colour and the signage.
The arrows pointing the way to another stacked bin of Mother Nature's tasty bounty.
Strawberries and raspberries ... some you can go pick for yourself. Broccoli, spuds, cabbages, courgettes, avocados, tomatoes, peaches, apricot, nectarines, lemons and green peppers.
The welcomes are genuine in these roadside emporiums.
Smiles and aprons amidst the stacked pallets and bins which form an impressive entrance to many of the spots.
The prices are as healthy as the product. As one bloke said - "you only need a tenner to get a week's feed".
There are so many of these gems I could understand why, every few weeks during the summer and autumn, a group of folk drive down from Wairoa to stock up.
It's a remarkable thing to purchase the ingredients for a meal or a snack which literally came from "out the back" and, in some cases, were probably picked by the person behind the counter.
The Bay is a fruitbowl, and anyone who can't find a bargain from a bin or a box off the side of a semi-rural road would have to be asleep at the wheel (not recommended).
Take a Sunday drive, or a drive any day for that matter, and check out the Bay's rich and tasty treasures ... the ones with the little flakes of freshly dug soil on them.
Do you know of a person or place which is a hidden gem in Hawke's Bay? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and include a contact phone number.