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TAS Country : January 24th 2013
12 Friday, Janua Farm Feature Sheffield Berry Gardens Berries span the generations for this in-the-blood grower TASTING SUCCESS: Juliet and Brett Rosendale have spent the past six years building up their Sh Sheffield produce land THIS Karolin MacGregor BERRY production is in Brett Rosen- dale's blood. A third generation berry producer, Mr Rosendale and his wife Juliet have spent the past six years establishing their Sheffield Berry Gardens business in the state's North-West. Situated on a 38ha property on the outskirts of Sheffield, the Rosendales' business is now growing. What was once an intensive crop- ping property, has now been converted to a prime lamb breeding and finishing business. However berry production is the couple's main focus. Mr Rosendale's introduction to the berry game started when he was young. His family used to live at Lorinna where they grew about 2.8ha of strawberries. Most of the fruit was sold to cus- tomers at what was then the thriving Hydro village of Gowrie Park. After buying the Sheffield property, the first berry crop Mr Rosendale planted were, naturally, strawberries. ''The good thing about strawberries is that you can plant them in Septem- ber and by November you can be picking fruit,'' he said. The other major fruit that the couple grow are raspberries. As well as establishing raspberries on their own property, the couple also lease part of a nearby raspberry farm. Ensuring raspberries put down a good root system during the establish- ment phase was essential, he said. ''The farm has been cropped pretty heavily for about 30 years, and the soil tests are OK, but we're trying to improve them a bit,'' he said. The couple planted their first rasp- berry canes about four years ago. Since then they have also planted small areas of blackberries, blue ber- ries and logan berries. They now have about 10,000 straw- berry plants in the ground and this was going to be increased to about 15,000 plants in the future. ''It was really hard to get any plants last year, so we didn't put in as many as I wanted, but we'll definitely plant more this year,'' he said. After a low season last year due to wet weather, the recent warm and dry conditions had been ideal for raspber- ries. Once established, raspberries yield about 4kg of fruit per metre. Like most markets, Mr Rosendale said supply and demand had the greatest impact on price. ''Before Christmas you can ask for much better prices because there's hardly any fruit around, but after Christmas you have to start looking at other options.'' The couple now have about 1ha of raspberries under development which includes six different varieties. They also lease 1ha of raspberries. The Rosendales have recently changed their marketing strategy. ''We used to sell most of our fruit to wholesalers and some small shops, but we've started doing more direct selling now.'' Their fruit is now sold at local markets including Launceston and Evandale. Mr Rosendale said this was where his wife's direct selling experi- ence was vital. Originally from the Philippines, Mrs Rosendale has plenty of experience when it comes to face-to-face sales. Getting customers to try their fruit is the first step to a sale. ''Most of the time if people taste the fruit they will buy some,'' Mrs Rosen- dale said. ''A lot of people are surprised about how good our berries taste.'' Picking the fruit at the right stage of ripeness was vital for top quality flavour. ''The fruit get sugars from the plant,
January 17th 2013
January 31st 2013