For Andreea Misescu and her family, Bucharest now seems like another world. Romania’s capital city, with its high density high-rise apartment living and almost two million residents, is a far cry from Apata in the Western Bay of Plenty; population in the hundreds.
Andreea and Alin Misescu from Romania are loving their new life as orchardists at Apata.
But the transition from Eastern Europe to a peninsula on the edge of the Tauranga harbour has gone well for Andreea, her husband Alin, and sons Alex (11) and Vlad (6).
Andreea is an accountant, but these days she can be found wandering among her 280 avocado trees, injecting them, applying fertiliser by hand and generally providing tender loving care. Pruning is now the next mission.
The Misescu’s orchard was well established when they took it over in December last year, with some of the trees reputedly 40 years old, but it was suffering neglect.
Initially the workload was intensive but now that the spraying is contracted out, Andreea believes that she has things to a more manageable level, with more time to dedicate to her family.
It has been a steep learning curve, she admits. “We had nothing to do with farms or horticulture in Bucharest. We lived in the suburbs and we never had so much land there.
“But I like everything to do with growing avocados. There’s nothing on the orchard I don’t like. It is so different from what our lives were like before.
“We were in the communist era before and everything in our city was concrete blocks and big apartment complexes. It’s so quiet here at Apata. Alin loves everything to do with the sea so we’re really enjoying being by the water. We have a river on one side and the harbour just in front of us.”
With Alin studying in Tauranga for a marine biology degree, the orchard work is falling on Andreea five days a week, in between dropping off and picking up their two boys from school. She says the assistance and advice she has received from AVOCO grower services rep John Cotterell has been tremendous and chairman of the export group’s grower relations committee, Hugh Moore, has been to visit them also.
“John has been here a lot of times. I am really happy with the help he has given and the knowledge he has passed on to me.
“I have had to learn everything about avocado orcharding. I knew nothing. So I am reading all the stuff that comes to my hand.”
With their first crop looming, Andreea and Alin are excited. Their orchard is not an early producer so they are expecting that the first pick will take place in September, with the main event in December or January. On the current fruit count, they are expecting about 7000 export trays and if they achieve this, they will be happy.
With their family’s orchard a ready-made soccer pitch and plenty of ‘posts’ around for the scoring of goals, brothers Alex and Vlad are also happy.
“Yes, we will be playing plenty of soccer,” Andreea says. “It’s what we like to do as a family and the boys are really enjoying having the space to do this.”