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TAS Country : March 24th 2011
14 Friday, Mar Farm Feature Name Heritage apples core business in Huon TIME-OUT: Mark Duggan relaxes during a busy day with his dog, Una, in the packing shed. land THIS Jennifer Crawley MARK Duggan loves growing apples, loves eating them and loves selling them. Mark, 52, planted his first orchard 16 years ago, but has worked in apples for much of his life. His father Lionel Duggan started growing apples in 1953. Lionel and wife Shirley are in their eighties and remain part of the Duggan Brand orchards planted across the road from the Huon River at Cradoc in the Huon Valley. Mark grows heritage apples and his wife Christine markets and delivers them. ''We do it all ourselves,'' Mark said. Christine was on the road in the truck making deliveries to the East Coast, the Midlands and the Derwent Valley last week. Duggan Brand apples are sold at greengrocers and farmers markets and exported to Melbourne and Sydney. The first shipment of Duggan's jono golds was made last week. Picked off the trees, the apples were packed into 2000 cases in Melbourne and sold in Coles and Woolworths in Melbourne and Sydney. ''You don't have to be big to do all right,'' Mark said. The Duggans are a small family business that is doing all right. After not replanting for a few years, they are replanting again --- 3000 trees in the last two years. There are 12000 trees in the ground at Cradoc and 8ha of orchard in production. Fruit imported from China, New Zealand and America is a big concern for Mark. ''The Tasmanian people support local growers. They don't want to eat imported fruit, they are disgusted that they have allowed the fruit into Australia,'' he said. Mark made the decision to grow apples for the local market and started grafting different varieties about five years ago. ''Every market we did they all wanted a lady in the snow or their old favourite, the cox's orange pippin, so we went for those varieties,'' he said. ''It's been good to just get out there and talk to the people.'' The Duggans sell at the Hobart farmers' market every second weekend while Lucaston Park Orchards do the other week, a timetable that gives both growers a break. ''Things got fairly tight in the industry and that's why we focused on local markets and got into the varieties that people wanted,'' Mark said. The first apple he grafted was a gravenstein, a popular dessert and cooking apple. Most gravensteins picked are sold and gone within days. Mark qualified as a carpet vinyl layer but has been growing apples for more than 30 years. ''I knew the farm. I always wanted to come back to the farm,'' he said. ''Lionel and Shirley think it's wonderful that the farm is still going. ''Even in my short time there's been that many changes in the industry, especially with the varieties. It's phenomenal, there's a market out there for every niche variety.'' Mark grows buerre bosc, packham, josephines, williams and red williams pears which are sold early with the gravensteins. The pears are sold locally at markets and festivals like the Taste of the Huon. Mark holds a large golden coloured pear called a lemon bergamot in his hand. ''It's an absolute beautiful pear,'' he said. '' I've only got a few trees because I didn't know what it was like. I think we probably need to plant a few more of those.'' Upgraded signage has alerted more customers to the Duggans' orchards. ''People are always pulling up, wanting apples for their horses, guinea pigs, birds and parrots, all sorts of things,'' Mark said. All waste off the grader is sold on the side of the road. ''We've had a lot of rain this year and it's been beautiful for growing apples,'' Mark said. ''I know the stone fruit growers and vegetable growers up North have suffered badly but the Huon Valley particularly was beautiful for growing apples. The fruit is big and sweet and it's juicy.'' Small insect and pest detectors hang from many trees. ''We like to monitor anything that's around,'' Mark said. ''We have really good earwigs in the orchard this year, they'll clean up all the woolly
March 17th 2011
March 31st 2011