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TAS Country : July 2010
y 30, 2010 17 wberry business blossoming FAMILY BUSINESS: Cygnet strawberry farmers Todd, David and Brody Jennings. Pictures: RAOUL KOCHANOWSKI 'We are always aiming for better varieties to keep people buying them, because if people don't like it they don't come back.' The pickers place them into trays that hold up to 4kg. All the fruit is grown to supermarket specifications. It has to be certain size and quality tested for listeria to make it food safe. Lime is used as a soil conditioner and the Jennings constantly test the soil in each block to see what is lacking and what the plants need. They perform leaf analysis throughout the season and fertigate accordingly. They are big fans of seaweed and use kelp to feed the plants. The strawberry grower said he prefers the dormant season when it's just him and the boys planting out in readiness for summer. Birds twitter in the distance while David, Todd and Brodie talk in the middle of a row. ''It gets very busy in summer here, with 160 people on site and at the same time we're preparing for the next season,'' David said. ''It's nice now.'' When they plant in May, all the money is outlaid and it is not until November and December that they start to get returns. ''It's a big draw on costing,'' David said. They used to plant vegetables in the winter to tie them over the hump in the early days, but it's all strawberries now. A quality-assurance consultant is employed one or two days a week to look at the fruit. David said quality assurance wasn't relevant when he started with his first patch of 5000 some 25 years ago. ''The first load I took to Hobart on the back of a flat tray ute, the punnets didn't have lids,'' he said. David left the house at 3am and drove around wholesalers in Hobart with his strawberries looking for sales before starting work blowing bottles at the ACL glass factory. ''I'd go back home and be up until 11pm or 12 in the packing shed,'' he said. He would then get up the next morning at 3am and go again. He did it for years to try and get established. Life is different now, but the hard work continues and he is happy with his lot. ''It's comfortable with family behind you,'' he said.
August 5th 2010