Republic of the Philippines

50 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand 6011

Filipinos make their mark in vegetable and fruit farms in Levin, North Island, New Zealand

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As the Philippine Embassy continues to reach out to Filipinos, directly engage with them on their work, livelihood and stay in the North and South Islands and thank them for their vital contributions to the Philippines and New Zealand, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez and the Philippine Embassy officers and staff and their families, members of their household and friends visited Levin on 23 March 2014 and met with Mr. Mark and Ms. Ailyn Bevan, owners of the Big Toms Ltd. where fresh fruits and vegetables are sourced from their farm and directly from fruit growers around the country. Together with Paul and Rosalyn, brother and sister, respectively, of Ailyn Bevan, they accompanied and allowed the Philippine Embassy group learn more about how strawberries, apples, tomatoes, onions and fruits and vegetables are raised and harvested in their farm. Big Toms food and grocery is located at the main road of Levin and draws many people and clients because of the store’s accessibility and availability of fresh fruits and vegetables not soaked in chemicals.

Mark and Ailyn Bevan took the group to Woodhaven Gardens Co. Ltd., a nearby 190 hectare farm owned by Mr. John Clarke who gave a briefing on the company’s scale of operations, manpower, marketing and focus on growing and prepacking fresh vegetables such as spinach, silverbeet, parsley, fennel bulbs, spring onions, lettuce, cabbage, celery, radish and fruits such as watermelons, melons and others. Mr. Clarke said that the company is proud of its highly skilled production and administrative staff, 9 of whom are Filipinos. The Philippine Embassy group and friends were given the wonderful opportunity and highly educational experience to go through some parts of the farm and see how fruits and vegetables are planted and taken from the ground. Giant pumpkins became the center of attention during the farm tour.

After the lunch fellowship at the residence of Mark and Ailyn Bevan, Ambassador Benavidez also presented a certificate of appreciation to Mr. Julius Verano who completed his tour of duty at the Philippine Embassy in March.

On behalf of the Philippine Embassy personnel and families and friends, Ambassador Benavidez thanked Ms. Alice Lozano, one of the Filipino community leaders who arranged for the visit to Levin, Mr. Mark and Ms.Ailyn Bevan and Mr. John Clarke for their warm hospitality, personal attention and gracious reception, sharing of information on the contributions of Filipinos and other interesting aspects in the running of the vegetables and fruits farm businesses and the very educational and fun farm experience given to everyone in Levin.

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