Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Ripe for the picking

Ripe for the pickingUsed in salads, sandwiches and everyone's favourite - desserts - berries are a versatile little addition to many dishes. And the best way to sample these sweet seasonal treats is to pick your own.Many city slickers have never tasted a sun-ripened blackberry, plucked straight from the bush. And their only experience of strawberries is the chilled, wrapped and insipid kind from the supermarket shelf.
Only now are some urban dwellers discovering what has long been a summer pastime in rural areas around the country - pick your own (PYO) berry farms.

The beauty of a PYO farm is that visitors can take home the best quality summer berries, usually at a very reasonable price. And if they really don't want to do all the picking (although that's half the fun) most farms will sell pre-picked buckets as well.

Drouin West Fruit & Berry Farm in Victoria's Gippsland region was recently recognised with a Minister's commendation in the 2002 Victorian Tourism Awards for providing an
all-round experience for visitors. It offers 25 acres of berry patches and fruit orchards, plus a cafe and even accommodation in two cottages. "We look at it as a 25-acre garden," says Joanne Butterworth-Gray who, with her partner Colin Gray, has owned the farm for 10 years.

Right from the outset, the couple embraced an 'ecologi-cally sustainable' philosophy that shunned pesticides and insecticides. "We decided to take on this philosophy because we really believe in providing a good quality and healthy product," says Joanne. "In doing that it, was very tough for the first few years, because we did have some loss while we allowed for the natural ecology to re-establish itself. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to slip back into the mainstream, but we said no. And what has happened is that the ecosystem is now in balance - there are bugs everywhere!" Story end

Full story: Issue 27, February / March 03

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