The Cherry Boys
The orchard at Hunter Road Wandin has been in our family for almost 50 years. The orchard was originally purchased by our parents in the late 60's and at that time the variety of fruit included cherries, peaches, nectarines and some lemons. Ground based crops were also grown including tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, beans, lettuce and more.
We (Frank & John) purchased the orchard from our parents in the early 80's, and decided to specialise in cherries. We also replaced many of the older varieties with more modern varieties that have higher crop yields, much larger fruit and are more resistant to splitting when it rains.
Both of us had young families at the time and relied on both the orchard and other jobs to support our kids. We both have teaching backgrounds, but in later years Frank became the head instructor at the Lilydale Squash and Fitness Centre, while John has done various jobs over the years. The cherry orchard however, has always remained our passion and any other employment has to give way when the orchard requires it.
Having specialised in cherries, we have spent the last 30 years learning all there is to know about growing this delicious fruit. We regularly attend seminars where speakers from the USA talk about new methods and techniques in growing cherries. We have adopted many of these innovative methods with great success and our cherry crops reflect this.
We employ a method of pruning which ensures that branches on our trees are young, as old wood has a poor crop yield. This also controls the size of the trees and ensures the cherry tree itself is using it's resources to growing cherries rather than growing excess wood and foliage.
Over the last 30 years most of our cherries have been picked to order, going to high quality restaraunts and high end fruit shops. Any excess at the season peak time has been sold through the Melbourne Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market, but given the demand in orders, typically the cherries are sold to these high end customers before they have been picked off the tree.
With the domination of Safeway and Coles killing off many of the smaller fruit shops we traditionally sell to, we have had to look at innovative / creative methods to get our cherries to the general public.
It is only in recent years that we have considered the idea of renting out cherry trees.
We looked at the U-Pick concept adopted by many orchards around here but upon surveying the general public found that most people were not satisfied with picking over trees that have been picked over by lots of other people, particularly when they have had to pay a fee to walk through the gate of the property.
We decided that renting cherry trees to individuals, or groups of individuals might be the best business model going forward. We are happy, because it allows us to get our product to the consumer (you) in the freshest possible way, and the consumer is happy because they have their OWN tree to pick, untouched by anyone else. When you arrive, it will be waiting for you wit it's full season crop. You don't get any fresher than picking a cherry straight from the tree yourself. The other advantage is that cherries you find in fruit shops or in Safeway and Coles have typically been through a chemical dip process. Cherries you pick straight from the tree obviously have not.
Within a year or so we are also looking to incorperate 'blossom tours' into the tree hire package.