Basil, Parsley & Partners


On Cromwell’s western outskirts Basil, Parsley & Partners grows the best handpicked herbs to supply distributors, restaurants, cafes and supermarkets across Central Otago.

Over two decades ago Queenstown chefs told Bob Tovey it was hard to get fresh herbs, sparking his career switch from hospitality to horticulture.


Basil, Parsley & Partners

Bob Tovey

In the 1990s, Bob Tovey turned an inspirational idea to produce and sell culinary herbs into reality. He bought land at Ripponvale and studied horticulture at Otago Polytechnic—Cromwell Campus.

Producing and selling herbs meant he could blend his love of working the land with a flexible, family-friendly lifestyle, and enjoy Central Otago’s magnificent landscapes and wide blue skies every day.

“I had a very straightforward vision for starting this business. I had a little baby at the time, and I wanted to spend time with my kids growing up. And I love growing things, working with nature, plants and the soil."

"If I’m working for myself, I’m in charge of my own destiny. I’m a very true believer in gut feelings. A lot of the time if I’ve got a belief in what I want to do, then I do it. Generally, it works out.”

Basil, Parsley & Partners Basil, Parsley & Partners Basil, Parsley & Partners

Doing it Differently

Central Otago Value: Embracing Diversity

For Bob, it’s not about doing what everyone does because there’s money in it. It’s about the freedom to choose a unique path and to see the world differently.

“When I first started everyone thought I was absolutely bonkers. Down the road here, this was all paddocks and sheep and the odd apple orchard.…. and they were like… ‘Oh my God, that new English man has moved in down the road, he’s got 8 acres and he thinks he’s going to make a living growing fresh herbs.’ Cos this used to be a tomato farm. So, we had a cash crop to start off with. We grew tomatoes for the first two years, and gradually turned one greenhouse over to hydroponic herbs and then the other and just went from there.”  

Inspiration and Innovation

Central Otago Value: Making a Difference

Inspiring others and exploring new horizons is second nature to Bob, whether it’s through sharing innovative business ideas or when travelling overseas. His appreciation of Central Otago’s grand, rugged beauty and seasonal wonders is never far from conversation.

“I just love it here. It’s the blue, blue sky. This time of year, every time I get in my car and drive down the road I just want to stop and get my camera out."

"Central Otago has been so good to me.  I have embraced Central Otago and I’ve believed in it as a region. It’s just nice to be positive and try and inspire other people. And I tell you what, when I go overseas… I’m just the best advocate for Central Otago. I will always have roots here.”

“We’re Still Doing It”

Central Otago Value: Respecting Others

The success of Basil, Parsley & Partners relies not only on supplying high-quality produce but also on strong, enduring relationships.

Whether it’s customers or staff, working well with others is at the heart of Bob’s business. He uses the word `team’ frequently and appreciates the contributions his staff make.

“I think it’s very, very important to respect others whether it’s in business or socially. I just think there’s too many people who don’t respect other people these days because they’re too busy staring into their phones or self-absorbed in Facebook.”

“Some of my customers I’ve had for 26 yrs. They were my very first customers and we’ve still got them to this day, and we have a bit of a laugh with each other about it, joking that: ‘we’re still all doing the same businesses after all these years.’”

Basil, Parsley & Partners