Growing Innovation: Issue 7, May 20, 2016

A strong farm gate focus creates customer connections

Glenn Fahey, Glenbernie Orchard, Darkes Forest, NSW

 

In 1986, third generation apple grower Glenn Fahey finished his engineering degree and returned to the family orchard, to help his father out following an operation.

“That was 30 years ago and my father is still getting about the farm.”

These days, Glenbernie Orchard produces about 400 tonnes of apples each year, as well as peaches and nectarines. The milder climate means the Fahey’s mainly grow Gala apples but also have Fuji, Red Delicious, Granny Smith and Pink Lady varieties.

Glenn said he enjoyed the challenge of working with the natural environment to grow produce customers could take home and enjoy.

“I also find that the apple industry is a more mature industry, in Australian terms anyway, and is quite cohesive. Many growers are quite free with their information sharing.”

Glenn said the orchard’s location, 60 kilometres from Sydney, meant the business had a strong farm gate focus.

“We certainly participate in the wholesale market but having customers come to the farm means we can interact directly with the person who eats our produce.”

This close interaction means the business received clear and direct feedback from customers.

“We are also able to provide educational content direct to those customers.  Recently, this content has included country of origin labeling discussion.”

Glenn said he was a supporter of research, such as that examining foreign market access, which helped the industry as a whole.

“The most current project that comes to mind is the Future Orchards® project which provides practical ideas in an on farm environment that is easy for growers to take up.”

High profile, industry-wide promotions and marketing campaigns were also beneficial, Glenn said.

Glenn said the most immediate challenge facing the industry was the need for a new marketing plan following an increase in national production.

“The plan would ideally manage the supply of apples throughout the season so that fruit was not stored for a long time and then dumped on to the market at season’s end.”

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