When John and Heather Preedy sell their popular Ettrick Gardens business and retire, the physical move should be relatively easy.

‘‘We’re just moving 100 metres sideways,’’ Mr Preedy said.

Their retirement home is Mrs Preedy’s family home, a villa built in 1912 that is believed to be the first house in the valley.

Mrs Preedy, nee McLachlan, grew up there with her parents, orchardists Gordon and Edna McLachlan.

The McLachlan property was subdivided when Mrs Preedy’s parents retired, with the house on 5000sq m of land retained in the family.

‘‘They asked me first if I wanted to be an orchardist, but I said no,’’ Mrs Preedy said.

Mr Preedy also has long ties to the local area and its orcharding past.

Born in Roxburgh, he said his parents had a small property just outside the town that had been his great›grandmother’s.

‘‘She was one of the early ones who planted apricot trees,’’ he said.

‘‘My great›grandfather was a dredge master on the Clutha.’’

Mr Preedy trained as a tractor mechanic at Rob’s Garage, another Roxburgh stalwart, and continued to tend an apple and pear orchard at his home.

In 1981, when Ettrick Gardens came up for sale, the couple decided to buy it. They began their long career as fruit and vegetable growers and sellers, raising a son and daughter along with a huge variety of produce.

They are well known not only to passersby on State Highway 8, but also to those who frequent the Otago Farmers Market, in Dunedin, where they became founding vendors in March 2003.

Mrs Preedy said they grew an extensive range of produce on the property, and she had seen tastes change over the decades.

‘‘You name it, we grow it,’’ she said.

‘‘From asparagus and artichokes through to zucchinis.’’

Forty years ago, few people knew what a zucchini was, but New Zealanders now eat a wider variety of vegetables, she said.

They had invested heavily in machinery over that time to make the job easier and to become more self›reliant, but harvesting vegetables was still quite labour intensive, Mr Preedy said.

He joked they would do ‘‘as little as possible’’ following retirement, but their new home cames with a large garage area housing several vintage Ford Prefects he planned to restore.

Mrs Preedy said the 5000sq m of land would also keep her busy.

‘‘He tells me I have to grow the veges,’’ she said.