Peter Rensen of Utopia Nurseries


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2024 Auckland Finalists: Peter Rensen of Utopia NurseriesFloricultural

Utopia Nurseries is blossoming under the guidance of this family, both in terms of its flower production business and how it’s enhancing the natural environment.  
The 18ha (8ha effective) Pukekohe nursery began in 1991 and today produces Orchids, Chrysanthemums and Ruscus greenery. The Rensens are focused on continuing to expand the business while ultimately creating a closed system. 
The business derives 40% of its income from Orchid cut flower sales, 40%, from the sale of Chrysanthemum pot plants, and the balance from Ruscus greenery. In addition, Miscanthus is grown and processed for potentially heating greenhouses in future. 
Extensive riparian planting has been carried out since the early 2000s, meaning that today the property boasts more than four hectares of native bush. This includes the Raupo wetlands which are one of the few habitats of this type remaining in the region. As well as enhancing the natural environment, the native planting reduces soil runoff and ensures excess water from the glasshouses is filtered before entering streams. 
This focus on freshwater extends to future planning. To ensure that future expansion is not reliant on additional external water sources, they have installed new ponds for irrigation. 
Biodiversity is further boosted by actively managing predators and reducing the use of chemical sprays. For example, they’re using natural nematodes to control butterflies, thrips and other insects, and fungi. Lavender has been planted to attract bees onto the property and its glasshouses. 
The team’s open-mindedness means that innovation is a prominent theme, for example a railing system has been installed to transport cut orchid stems from the glasshouses to the packhouse with minimal handling. 
Peter has a clear vision for Utopia Orchids, built on a commitment to leaving the land in better shape than he found it – ready to hand on to sons Mich and Tim.

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