As much as we’d hoped 2022 would be all smooth sailing, it’s proving to be a little rougher than we’d hoped. But despite all the lumps and bumps – and a cyclone thrown in for good measure – we’ve got our sights set on the horizon and are steering toward a brighter future. What that means for us is more local collaborations, more sustainable solutions, and more people sharing in our joy of food. So without further ado, let us introduce you to our latest Project Local with Monavale Organic Blueberry Farm in Cambridge.

Marije and Sam standing amid the blueberry bushes at Monavale farm

This collaboration has actually been in the pipeline for some time – we’ve always admired Monavale and knew that they produce some of the finest Organic Blueberries in the Waikato – so it was back in early January that Sam (our head pastry chef) and I paid them a visit. And although we both knew the berries well, we had never been to their beautiful farm that is home to Cafe Irresistiblue, a Playground, Soccer Field, Bunny Rabbit, and our guide Marije (pictured above).

From the raised deck of the cafe, it appears as if the blueberry bushes extend all the way to the base of Mt Pirongia, and they almost do! Marije explained to us that the farm – which started as a 10 acre property covered in scrub when Marije’s parents purchased it in 1985 – now takes up 110 acres! At one point, Marije, her brother Marco, and their parents each owned and lived on neighbouring orchards but, in 2002, decided to amalgamate and form Monavale Blueberries which is how they’ve grown to be so big.

The strategic decision to farm organically began with Marije’s parents when they planted the first blueberry bushes back in 1985. Through his previous work experiences, Marije’s father had experienced first hand what chemicals do to the land and to your health, so knew that he wanted to do it differently. Monavale Blueberries are BioGro NZ organically certified and are sold across Europe, the USA, Asia, Australia, and in NZ. With 110 acres of fully certified organic crop, it takes 150 seasonal employees and 12 full time staff, to get everything done. They have planted over 80,000 bushes on their orchard, growing over 30 different varieties that each take 4 years to begin producing fruit.

Volare X Monavale Collaboration

These days, Monavale’s product range is includes Organic Blueberry Powder; Organic Blueberry & Apple Juice; Monavale Pressed Organic Blueberries (100% pure organic blueberry juice) and organic blueberry jam, spread, salad dressing, sauce & chutney, and soon – for a limited time only – a delectable Volare x Monavale Organic Blueberry Cheesecake Cronut!

Dreamed up by our very talented pastry team, these glorious little creations are the antidote to any of life’s problems. They’ve taken our traditional Cronut base and have injected with a light and fluffy cheesecake filling that’s been folded with an Organic Monavale Blueberry compote and topped with more cheesecake filling and fresh berries. Available this Thursday, February 17th, at all Volare stores and at the Irresistiblue Cafe.

Opened in December 2009, the café and orchard are situated centrally in the Waikato only 10 minutes out of Cambridge, 15 minutes from Te Awamutu and 25 minutes out of Hamilton. The cafe has extensive views over the orchard, as well as stunning views towards Pirongia, Kakepuku and Maungatautari mountains and, while you’re there, you can even try your hand at picking your own berries like Sam and I got to do.

And after the havoc that the recent Cyclone played on them, it’s the perfect time to pop in and show your support for local.