Tairāwhiti based, LeaderBrand, is aiming to establish Gisborne as the salad hub of New Zealand through its innovative greenhouse farming methods.

Supported by a $17 million loan from Kānoa – RDU’s Provincial Growth Fund, LeaderBrand has developed 11.15 hectares of covered crop production, using fixed roof plastic houses to grow produce year-round.

With the growing issue surrounding food security, a fast-growing population and disruptions caused by weather events, LeaderBrand’s greenhouses are a fresh way of tackling how to efficiently use land and water resources, increase yields, sustainably supply the New Zealand and export market, as well as nurturing Tairāwhiti’s economic development.

LeaderBrand intends to grow existing crops such as baby leaf in the houses, alongside new products such as wild rocket, a crop well suited to the controlled growing environment of the greenhouse.

The facility incorporates a large capacity reservoir which stores collected water from the greenhouse roofs, which is filtered and reused for irrigation purposes.

The facility is a significant project, providing LeaderBrand with data it can use to further scale up the model for future expansion.

Discover the impacts that Kānoa – RDU’s investments are having in Tairāwhiti, below.

LeaderBrand – Salad capital


Duration: 2:29

Gentle music.

[Push shot through a large greenhouse that is currently under construction]

[Logo appears: Kānoa Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit]

[Panning shot of the large greenhouse under construction]

Gordon McPhail: This is an eleven hectare greenhouse project.

[Mid shot of Gordon, he stands outside in the greenhouse as he speaks]

Gordon: As you can see, behind me, it's a fully enclosed greenhouse. We're growing in the soil.

[Wide shot of rows of lettuces growing in the soil]

Gordon: So we still have that natural environment that we are growing in.

[Mid shot of Gordon as he speaks]

Gordon: Obviously, we're controlling, you know, the weather which comes in above me. And we're controlling the temperature through vent controls, thermal screens and fans.

[Panning shot above the greenhouse which is currently under construction, showing mountains in the distance]

Richard Burke: This project here was something that we were thinking about doing for a lot of years,

[Mid shot of Richard Burke as he speaks. He stands outside with a lettuce farm in the distance behind him]

Richard: But it was really a little bit beyond us. We've invested a lot of our capital into land and into salad processing.

[Various shots from inside the factory showing salad greens being processed]

Richard: And so when this opportunity came up, we really decided what would LeaderBrand really need to support one, our salad business and two, the community.

[Mid shot of Richard as he speaks]

Richard: So the project really started from that point, it was always a bit of a dream for us, I guess. And now here we are kind of partway through the build.

[Panning shot showing the scale of the greenhouse under construction]

Gordon: Our business is centered around providing vegetables, day in day out across New Zealand and in particular salads.

[Visuals shift between a mid shot of Gordon speaking, and various shots from inside the factory of salad being washed, processed and bagged]

Gordon: Now, of course, we have a very challenging environment here in New Zealand, in particular, through the winter. From a food supply perspective for New Zealand, you know the opportunities are somewhat endless in an environment like this.

[A yellow tractor drives across the farm]

[Mid shot of Richard as he speaks]

Richard: Well, the farming guys are really excited because you know, I guess I've been in the farming business here for a number of years, and we've got quite a young generation coming through. And for them, they always want to do something new and something exciting. So this is definitely a step up in what we do as farmers if you look around the world, this sort of technology has really taken hold. But in New Zealand, not so much.

[Visuals shift between a mid shot of Richard speaking, and various shot of the large greenhouses currently under construction]

Richard: Kānoa has given us the opportunity to have a crack. And if we can turn these sorts of projects into something that changes the way we farm and has better outcomes for both people, for the environment and for the business then then we're on a winner.

[A still shot showing the greenhouse project at sunset]

[Logos appear: Kānoa Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit; Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment Hīkina Whakatutuki; Te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa New Zealand Government]

Music fades.

[Fade to black]