October 2011

Farmers meet many challenges, we know it! A good balance of optimism and opportunity is often needed to get through the hard times presented by nature and unstable markets.

September’s farm visit provided proof of these observations. At Pakenham Upper WOF members inspected two enterprises focussed on apple and pear production. The Harding orchard markets whole fruit, mainly apple and pear varieties. Not far away at Bellevue Orchards the Russo family produces fruit juices under the ‘Summer Snow’ label. Both properties showed evidence of careful planning, tidy tree management and considerable investment in machinery and shedding to produce the end result.

The ‘Summer Snow’ concept was explained as an opportunity which grew out of adversity. When a summer hail storm ripped most of the apple harvest from the trees some years ago, this weather calamity led to the idea to juice the damaged fruit in order to retrieve some value. Thus, from this 1998 disaster has grown a successful fruit juicing activity right on farm. Crushing, juicing, filtering and bottling of the fruit, in various blends and without additives, results in a high end consumer product sold mainly through fruit shops and farmers markets. With eight different juices, including apple and pear, tangy apple and lemon and refreshing Royal Gala, the Russo family tempted WOF members to taste and purchase a fresh beverage based entirely on locally grown fruit.

At the Harding orchard, WOF members had contact with the whole fruit, noting the equipment required to handle a large fruit harvest with maximum efficiency. Again, tasting and opportunity to purchase added to the understanding of the apple industry. What sweeter experience of spring than to walk among apple trees with their pink and white blossom full of perfume and bees, then to drink and eat the naturally sweet end products?

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women, you do not have to be a farmer to participate.

Our Tuesday 8th November activity is a farm visit to a Nar Nar Goon property with Limousin X vealers, Australian miniature goats, Great Dane dogs and Appaloosa horses. For more details contact our secretary, Jenny Stephenson on 9700 0282 or visit the website at www.womenonfarms.org for the monthly program.

For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.