By Lauren Crimp of RNZ
The roadside sign is worse for wear and the shelves are still a little bare, but Springfield fruit and vege shop in rural Hastings is back in business.
For 15 years, Diane and Nicolaas Slagter’s Pakowhai Rd store has been a popular stop for residents.
Since Cyclone Gabrielle destroyed everything they had, the shed housing their shop had also become their home.
Next to the makeshift kitchen, the produce chiller also keeps their milk cold - and behind that is their bedroom, with their home next door gutted.
It will be a while yet before they can move back in. But they have at least slowly begun to resurrect their livelihood.
“We haven’t figured out how to work the cash register yet,” Diane said with a laugh.
“We’ll get there.”
Stock was limited, but it was a start, Nicolaas said.
“We’ve got cauli, cabbage and broccoli.
“Today I picked two cucumbers, and I picked some fresh peas and nearly two packets of beans.
“And that’s it. And eggs!”
With the beanstalks flowering and some consistent sunshine, he knew it was time to open the doors once more.
“This morning I picked two packets of beans, tomorrow it could be three or maybe even four because with this heat they do grow.”
Most of the $2 broccoli, cauliflowers and cabbages were snapped up before lunchtime, but those seeking raspberries were out of luck.
The plants were completely wiped out in the floods, Nicolaas said, and they would be lucky to have any this summer.
They were what Springfield was most famous for.
“They’ve got a particular flavour, and you know what the flavour is because you have chickens running in them, and the chicken poo does something.
“Same with the cabbages and the caulis over there, just the flavour of it.”
While flooding and silt ravaged the Slagters’ home and livelihood, it had come in handy for growing.
“It’s good stuff, you turn it into the ground. Rotary hoe it and plough it and look at it,” he said.
Locals were supporting the Slagters by spreading the word that Springfield had opened.
Jade Peterson and her colleague nabbed a cabbage, a broccoli and a dozen eggs, after seeing a post on Facebook about the shop.
“We’re both Hawke’s Bay locals, and it’s been a rough year, so seeing these stores popping back up again is really heartening,” she said.
The owners were glad to be back.
The smile and wave from Nicolaas every time the doorbell rang said it all.
“It’s good, eh darlin’?” he said, smiling at his wife.
“It’s a beginning, it’s a beginning,” she replied.
“You feel something’s happening.”