Whilst we grow more than just strawberries, it is Fragaria × ananassa, the delicious Strawberry, that is still the heart of our operation. Originally a wild fruit found in the forests, references to strawberries go back nearly 2,000 years and it was the infamous King of England, Henry VIII that first combined strawberries and cream. So, how do we grow the fruit today? Let Simon Dornauf, Robin's son, explain....
"Our berries begin life as small plants grown from runner plants, unlike our blackberries and raspberries which are grown from the root and blueberries which are grown from shrubs.
The plants are grown above ground on a tabletop structure about a metre off the ground to help the pickers. Poly tunnels cover the plants to protect them from the elements and also to assist ripening by increasing the temperature.
We also protect the plants from pest insects, like certain mites with other insect as part of our Intergrated Pest Management plan, which dramatically reduced the need for pesticides."
"Strawberry plants are only used for one season and require constant removal of runners. Growing strawberries in Tasmania differs from that of Queensland; in Tassie, we grow through the summer whereas up north they use short day length varieties and plant manipulation to grow in winter as the summers are just too hot.
Three or four months after planting we're getting fruit to pick - and the numbers are quite remarkable"
"Each plant produces a kilo of fruit and we'd expect one of our 200 pickers to pick between 100-200kgs of strawberries every other day we harvest. Less than 10% of berries are wasted - of course we'd like that to be less but we're dealing with a natural product and pest, disease and over ripeness still occur. Thankfully the pigs on the farm love the taste and are happy to eat the left overs!
We still pick all our berries by hand and have workers from all over the world come to pick. We are proud to be involved in the Seasonal Worker Program that assists Pacific Islander people find work and support their families back home. When you eat our berries, you're not just eating the tastiest fruit but also supporting jobs in farming."