A group of 40 North Island chefs, culinary tutors and food writers, attended the Forum-on-wheels in November in Pukekohe.

The forum gives the latest information on crop production, knowledge on new varieties of vegetables, consumer trends, cooking tips and advice on caring for vegetables - all from those passionately growing, harvesting, preparing and supplying to the food bowls of Auckland and internationally.

Those attending the Forum visited several sites including large scale tomato production at Status Produce, potato sorting and cleaning and red onion prepping at A. S. Wilcox, salad leaf washing and drying and root crop processing at Fresh Link, and seasonal importance and freshness of produce at R. C. Hari and Sons.

According to growers and producers, while demand for vegetables is on the up, there are a number of pressures related to producing them that growers need to take into account, such as concerns about water supply, urban sprawl and rates increases, not to mention weather issues.

At the end of the Forum, the chefs, culinary tutors and food writers, all returned home loaded with armfuls of vegetables generously given in the spirit that fresh New Zealand grown vegetables are the best.