Avo theft overwhelms and inspires

Michelle and Chris Booth, in front of one of their avocado plantings.

A Tauranga family is overwhelmed by support it has received from its community and is keen to press on with creating an avocado orchard after thieves stole their first plantings in mid-August.

Chris and Michelle Booth had planted 52 avocado trees on their 7000m2 Sapphire Drive property at Hairini, Tauranga – where their plan to build a home and develop an avocado/citrus orchard – straight after lockdown only to find 33 trees missing on August 14.

“We’d only got consent from Tauranga City Council during lockdown to plant up to 100 trees as part of a commercial enterprise on our property, which is in a residential zone,” says Chris.

“I couldn’t believe the trees had only been in the ground a few months and this happens. It’s a bit shocking.”

Shortly after the discovery a community member started a givealittle page to raise funds to replace the stolen trees. Within four days it had raised more than $1600. “That’s been incredible – we’re feeling so blessed by the community around us. We estimate the cost of the trees was about $1500 then there are fertilisers and things. And there’s increased security,” says Chris.

“I was thinking of implementing a few measures down the track when we had fruit. I never thought someone would look at the trees and decide to rip them out of the ground.

“So I’ll have to put in place a few measures now, and this all costs.”

But the theft hasn’t put the family off building the orchard. “No, we think it is the best use of the property.”

The plan is to plant 100 trees – half avocados and half some sort of citrus – and sell fruit locally. “The idea is we have a small side business on our property, which works around our jobs that can help us financially and give our family a great lifestyle.

“And it’s not just about selling to the local market – we want to look at community gardens and things like that in future, which bring benefits to our community as well. So we want to press forward.”


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