This season has been a tough one for growing fruit and vegetables.

Grower Cam Booker, of Sefton, near Rangiora, has had good crops of cauliflowers and strawberries, ''when they're not getting rained on''.

Two weeks ago, he had a good crop of strawberries but after three days of rain ''we've never thrown so many strawberries on the ground''.

He said he would keep picking strawberries until the last of his crop fell victim to frosts.

Advertisement

His ''winter strawberries'' were winners in the Farmers' Market New Zealand Winter Food Awards three years ago.

While he had grown some exotic crops such as purple cauliflower, sunshine squash and Romanesco and won prizes in the past, Mr Booker said he was sticking to more traditional vegetables during the winter months, including cauliflower, broccoli, cabbages, kale, lettuces and carrots, which tended to sell better at the region's farmers' markets.

''While people are interested in the exotic vegetables, we don't sell great numbers of them.''

Mr Booker said his famed Brussels sprouts just needed some ''hard frosts to sweeten them up''.

''I'm sure there's as many who are looking forward to them and as many dreading them appearing on their dinner plate.''

Asparagus, tomatoes and capsicums would also be back in the spring.

He said while locusts might be a new delicacy on the Rangiora cafe scene, he believed his customers still preferred their meat and four vegetables.

''And there's more and more vegetarians and vegans out there, so, hopefully, they will keep eating vegetables,'' he said.

''But I'm happy for people to eat bugs. If only people ate aphids, caterpillars and other pests ...''

-By David HIll

Central Rural Life