From a quiet orchard in beautiful rural Appleby, to one of New Zealand’s largest growers, the story of JS Ewers Limited mixes a passion for top quality product and good old-fashioned family values.
The tale begins with company founder John Ewers, a young boy patiently growing veggies in true old fashioned style, under the guidance of early local grower Gaybertus Klop. At 15, John joined his parents, growing in the productive soils of nearby Patons Road – without the luxury of irrigation – manually watering by hand. Working alongside his parents developed in John an ability to combine family life with work life, forging the enduring roots of the JS Ewers story.
Together with wife Margaret in 1972, the Ewers purchased an orchard property at Blackbyre Road in Appleby, which they rapidly began to transform from 20 acres of fruit production to outdoor vegetable growing. Early crops included cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, carrots, parsnips and turnips. Hard work and growing family involvement shines through in Margaret’s recollection of those early days “Mornings would see me pushing my daughter in the pram down to Blackbyre Road to bag cabbages first thing. By 7am, John’s father would arrive to take over and I would push the pram home to make morning tea and return later on.”
As the Ewers family grew to include three daughters, all of whom have worked the land at Blackbyre Road alongside Johns parents, Margaret’s brothers Kelvin and Allan and sister Shirley, so did production capacity. 1983 saw the introduction of indoor growing in plastic houses, adding the ability to warm the soils and begin producing wonderful, flavoursome tomatoes – a product the company is now highly regarded for.
From 1991, JS Ewers investment in glasshouses further revolutionised production capacity, and the business experienced sustained growth. The use of technology to support this growth and production has been a cornerstone of the story from the early years to the present day: 1994 saw the introduction of soil-less cultivation and in 2001 hanging gutter technology added another modern element to the story – taking production and product quality to new levels.
With the involvement of MG Marketing in recent years, the expansion continues with the addition of leased glasshouses in Pugh Road and Hope, and new land leases across the Waimea Plains. Add to the mix a stellar workforce that sits between 140 and 200 people depending on time of year, and the company can now proudly call itself one of the largest producers of both indoor and outdoor crops in New Zealand.
John and Margaret Ewers both still remain passionate about the quality products the company brings to market, and the husband and wife team continue to contribute to the growing story of JS Ewers Limited.