Our family business was established and still thrives on our farm just outside Geraldine
Michael is the fifth generation of Barker's to own land in the Geraldine area but was the first to never farm it. My parents founded a cottage industry called Barker’s Wines in 1969 and developed a range of fruit wines. You are invited to visit the Barker’s Wines exhibit, and other interesting local exhibits in the Geraldine Museum, just 80 metres from the Vicarage, on Cox St.
The Barker’s business grew and it no longer makes fruit wines but fruits are the hero of a range of premium Jams, Chutneys, Relishes, Sauces, Dressings & Vinaigrettes, Compotes, Fruit Pastes and Fruit Syrups. Barker’s is now the leading NZ manufacturer of Fruit Syrups, Chutneys and Fruit Fillings for the baking industry. Australian visitors may recognise some of these Barker’s products which are now available in Australian supermarkets. Michael was the Chief Executive and is now Chairman of Barker Fruit Processors which is the town’s largest employer. If you look in the fridge in your room you will hopefully find a jar of jam or sauce, proudly labelled 'Barker’s of Geraldine.'
So why did we buy the Vicarage?
Brigitte and I have both recently retired and together we decided to restore this iconic Geraldine building so we could welcome guests to stay and enjoy the old building, the charming town and our beautiful rural hinterland. In this way we will continue to contribute to the wellbeing of this special town that we call home.
The Vicarage is classified by Heritage New Zealand as a Category Two protected building and had fallen into disrepair since the last resident vicar moved out in 2000. We bought it in late 2017, aware that it was going to be a challenge to satisfy the modern building code, town planning and heritage requirements. The journey so far has been challenging, interesting and very rewarding. The unexpected reward has been the hugely positive feedback from the people of Geraldine.
Click here to see photos of the renovation journey.
Our Vicarage connections go back many years
Michael was born and bred on a farm near Geraldine and grew up in the Geraldine district. Over six generations, the Barker family have been strong supporters of the community and its institutions, if not regular with our attendance at Church. I knew the last eight Vicars, some better than others, and some were family friends. The Church was once the focal point of small rural communities like Geraldine. I’m not sure that these connections properly qualify us to own a Vicarage but they do provide an association and a respect which has made the renovation all the more poignant. These Vicars were “called to serve” their communities and there is no question, they all helped to make Geraldine a better place.
Michael and Brigitte Barker