Hill Nurseries Ltd was founded in 1994 by the son of a local farmer based in Hastings New Zealand. Graeme Hill had graduated from Massey University and after spending a number of years working for the family business, he decided to follow his passion and get into growing seedling vegetables.
Known then as the "Fruit Bowl" of New Zealand, the local growing area was home to one of New Zealand's most successful canneries - J Wattie Foods Ltd - now known as Heinz Wattie. It was for this cannery that Graeme set up his nursery for, to grow tomato transplants required for the production of one of the canneries most successful products - Watties Tomato Sauce.
Since that time, Hill Nurseries Ltd has grown to the size it is today, and now produces over 30 million seedlings each year for a range of customers located around New Zealand. Under Graeme's guidance, the company now proudly produces all the tomato transplants required today by Heinz Wattie and their team of growers - cementing a long and successful relationship with one of New Zealand's most successful brands. In addition, the nursery now produces a wide variety of vegetable seedlings for other commercial growers, including lettuce, leek, celery, melon, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower to name a few.
The nursery also produces a variety of native seedlings - mainly produced for other large native seedling suppliers. Forestry seedlings including eucalyptus and manuka are also produced on a large scale for bigger corporate forestors.
In order to produce large numbers of seedlings for big scale commercial growers, the Nursery was set up with a state of the art production system, which enabled the economic handling of millions of seedlings. Containerised seedling trays were adopted as the only viable solution to handle such a volume and range of product that was required during the course of the year.
This required innovation, as systems at the time were labour intensive and costly to operate. Graeme and his team of workers successfully evolved solutions to handle all aspects of the growing and production cycle. A variety of growing environments were introduced throughout the growing phase to ensure plants adapted to meet the environment they were destined for.
In addition, a nutrient feeding system and product was developed to meet the needs of such production. This factor has been key in the success of growing the best possible transplants for the nursery customers. Liquid Gold has been refined and developed over the years to give the best possible food source for the plants grown, and is now the main feed used across all products produced in the nursery.
The nursery is located at 575 Lyndhurst Road, Hastings. The site occupies approx 4 ha, and houses a variety of buildings and outside protected growing areas. As the facility grows product for larger commercial producers, it is not open to the general public.