Dean Wakefield has recently set up a new business called Hortipride and they are growing a unique crop in Western Australia that might be a world first. Dean originally grew Cape Gooseberry (Physalis Peruviana) in Zimbabwe in late 90s in the open field before starting trials in some basic tunnels. While many people are familiar with the greener Gooseberry variety Physalis Edulis, Dean has always specialised in the lesser known Cape Gooseberry which is largely unknown in commercial cropping within Australia.
Wanting to grow the crop in the most efficient way Dean approached Powerplants and Bon Electrics (Powerplant’s local partner in WA) to find out about the most appropriate technology to get the best yield from this variety. Dean ended up building a greenhouse including roof ventilation, shade screen, circulation fans and a unique tank-based hydroponic dosing system. Most of the equipment was provided by Powerplants and controlled with the new Priva Compass controller.
Dean started growing the crop late 2019 and couldn’t be happier with the results. According to him the crop is 6 weeks ahead of where it normally is compared with crop he has ever grown and yield is up. Dean largely puts this down to the perfect climate control of the greenhouse combined with the hydroponic dosing system designed in collaboration with Hortipride. Dean is not aware of anyone else growing this crop hydroponically in the world.
Dean is selling his produce to specialist fruit and vegetable stores like Farmer Jacks. He believes that the unique look and flavour of the Cape Gooseberry has been a real selling point and they are flying off the shelf. Helping fuel the rapid uptake and sale of his produce is a social media campaign focused around recipes containing the produce so that regular households can become more familiar with using the product in everyday meals.