• Fay and Joe Gock have been widely praised for giving back to the country that took them in. (Loading Docs)Source: Loading Docs
The achievements of these pioneering farmers in New Zealand have been documented in a new mini-film that celebrates how they "saved the kumara".
Bianca Soldani

24 Aug 2016 - 10:40 AM  UPDATED 24 Aug 2016 - 10:43 AM

Fay and Joe Gock came to New Zealand as refugees and have spent the past six decades giving back to the country that took them in.

The couple, who fled China during the Japanese occupation, are agriculture pioneers and the industry has their ingenuity to thank for keeping sweet potato farming alive.

The Gocks began on a leased tract of land in the Auckland suburb of Mangere, and quickly made a name for themselves as the biggest market garden in the area. In fact, they officially held that title from the 1950s to 80s.

During that time, they were the first farmers in the world to place individual stickers on individual fruit and led the local market in growing seedless watermelons.

Sweet potato however, was one of their specialities, and in that field that Gocks were known for being able to grow the crop year-round thanks to their under-ground heating system.

Joe also invented a temperature controlled way of storing their sweet potato to lower the seasonal loss of crops from 50 per cent to almost zero.

But their most innovative move came after sweet potato farms in the north of New Zealand were wiped out by black rot in the 1950s.

The Gocks had previously engineered a disease-free strain of sweet potato and donated it to their fellow farmers across the country free of charge, a move which many say saved the nation’s sweet potato industry.

For their overwhelming generosity and the many contributions the pair have made to the industry, they were handed the Bledisloe Cup for horticulture in 2013.

The Cup, that looks similar to the rugby one of the same name, was presented by then Prime Minister John Key. Joe has also been honoured with a Queen's Medal.

The couple, who are now in their 80s, are celebrated in a new mini-film by Loading Docs titled "How Mr and Mrs Gock Saved the Kumara", that combines their story of business success with poetry.

In it, Joe describes himself as “not a scientist, but an experimenter”.

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From SBS Food
Baked sweet potato fries
I started wearing close-toed shoes a couple weeks ago. If that’s not a sign that autumn has arrived, I don’t know what is. I’m also finding myself drawn to using my oven once more. I couldn’t have imagined anything more unpleasant than turning it on just a couple months back and yet here I am craving oven-baked sweet potato fries. There is so much discussion on the web about how to achieve faux deep-fried fries. For example, coating them with a thin layer of cornflour or semolina tricks your tastebuds into believing you’re actually eating something really crispy and, therefore, fried, even if you’re not. (PS Yoghurt + honey + a pinch of cinnamon makes a damn good dipping sauce.)