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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

Preparing Fruit Farms for Small Settlers

Preparing Fruit Farms for Small Settlers.

Having proved the suitability of the climate and soil for fruit-growing, a scheme was started, on the suggestion of Mr Clifton, whereby 1200 acres, added to the original block about ten years ago, was subdivided into sections of not more than 50 acres each. These areas were to be prepared for profitable occupation by planting a portion of each section in orchard, laying down another portion in pasture, and reserving a third portion for arable purposes. Under this scheme some 408 acres have been dealt with up to the present, comprising eleven farms, ranging in size from 21 to 48 acres, most of them being over 30 acres in extent. The planting was done gradually, and the age of the orchards varies from eight years to three years. The longest planted orchard has now pears in bearing. The object of the scheme was to bring these farms to such a stage of development that settlers with small capital, and who could not wait long for a living return from the land, could take them up under lease, or by purchase, under the Government land regulations, and make an immediate living from their holdings. Last year these fruit farms, each with its proportion of pasture and cropping land, were thrown open for selection under the optional tenure, and every one of the eleven sections was taken up under one tenure or another. The improvements, besides the planted fruit trees and the grass, consisted of a certain amount of fencing, and shelter belts planted. As an illustration of the value added to this land, originally bought by the Government at from 10s to 12s 6a per acre, we may take No. 3 farm, which was purchased by the selector for cash. This holding consists of a little over thirty acres, of which 16¾ acres are in orchard, mostly peach, apple and pear trees, planted in 1906; six acres in grass, and the balance unimproved or partly occupied by shelter belts. The valuation placed on this farm for cash, and at which it was taken up, was £710, and works out at £37 10s for the orchard land, £7 for the grass land, and £2 10s for the balance per acre. The trees are coming into free bearing this year, and at the time of our visit the owner, Mr Griffiths, was gathering some fine Triumph peaches for marketing. He has built a good house on the place, and from his remarks we gathered he was quite satisfied with his bargain.