Tell us about your growing philosophy
We are trying to grow the best tasting, most nutritious fruit possible for sale to our local community, and are certified organic.
We believe the crux of growing fruit organically is to incorporate diversity at every level. From the microbiology in the soil and on the trees, to the understorey plant species, to the widest range of apple varieties, to increasing the range of tree species, as well as animal species. We have chooks primarily for insect control in the peaches and geese for weed control. We are trying to integrate more animals (both domestic and wild species) into the production system.
Unfortunately in much of our orchard we are still reliant on copper and wettable sulphur to control apple scab - our greatest threat. The orchard has been our sole source of income for the past 10 years. Looking forward to the time when we can totally wean ourselves from allopathic treatments, by using a more holistic approach.
Tell us about your place on Earth.
Kalangadoo is about 25 km from the edge of the Southern Ocean, and has a mild maritime climate. Winters are cool and wet, it never snows and frost damage on apples is rare. Pastures grow well over winter, and we start spring with a major weed problem. In summer the paddocks dry off, and irrigation is necessary for quality fruit. Water is drawn from an underground limestone aquifer, and has more dissolved calcium than sodium - this results in hard apples.
A few times in most summers, a hot northerly will push temperatures to over 40 degrees Celcius, and we can lose up to 10% of fruit to sunburn.
Subtropical species such as citrus, avocado, tamarillo, loquat and passionfruit can be grown here, but we are close to their southern limit.
We have about 5 hectares of trees - 80% apples and 20% other types (mostly peach, nectarine, apricot, plum and olive). From the hundred apple varieties in our arboretum, we have selected about 30 varieties that we now grow in commercial quantities.
As we focus more on supplying the local community, we are increasing the range of fruit species in the orchard.
Apple rootstocks mostly MM106 and M7, but we do have some M27, M9, M26, Ottawa 3 and MM102.
What draws you to growing fruit?
We just think that working in the natural environment producing nutritious food for the local community is an absolute privilege. It is all about keeping jobs and money in the local community.
innovation most rocks your boat?
The Holistic Core Values resonated strongly with us and inspired us to become a part of this forum.
What might you change if you could do one thing over again in your orchard?
Orchard design - have lots of fruit tree species all mixed up together to avoid monoculture, plant trees further apart, and plant belts of local indigenous species through the orchard to encourage more beneficial insects and small insectivorous birds.
How do you go about marketing the good fruit?
We sell at Farmers' Markets, and supply local independent supermarkets and green grocers. A small amount is sold farm gate. (We avoid the major supermarkets like the plague).
We have no cold storage, and sell fresh from the tree for about 13 weeks of the year. All fruit sold to the consumer is guaranteed to have been picked within the past four days. 'Out of date' fruit and blemished fruit is juiced or dried.