Home' Grower : September 2011 Contents 6
The South Australian Grower – September 2011
❏ By LIZ COTTON
NIC and Alexi Kentish’s 7-hectare
cherry orchard at Mount Gambier
is a self-proclaimed ‘labour of
love’ with a very special histor y.
In 2002, the voluntary Adelaide
organisation Zimbabwe Connection was
established by Jill Lambert to help
Zimbabwean farming families that had been
evicted from their farms, or those who left
because of political instability, rising
violence and a deteriorating economy.
One couple who left the countr y in search
of a new life was Henr y and Gail Bosman.
They had farmed beef cattle and grew
tobacco, maize, soybeans, mangoes,
lemons and employed 250 workers before
being forced off their land.
Mr Bosman came to Australia soon after
the couple’s farm was taken over.
He was sponsored by the Kentishs, who
produce organic beef, lamb and horticulture.
“I had been looking for a long time to
find people to take on leadership roles on
the farm,” Mr Kentish said.
“I had plenty of seasonal staf f, but for
people to take on responsibility, the
pickings were ver y slim.”
The cherr y orchard came into being with
the help of Mr Kentish’s next door
neighbour and former Member for Mount
Gambier Ror y McEwen, with whom Mr
Bosman had formed a good friendship.
“Rory had a lemon orchard that he was
not planning on parting with, but he got
along so well with Henr y that he said he
would sell it on the advice that we look at
growing cherries – which he believed could
be very rewarding,” Mr Kentish said.
The Kentish and Bosman families took a
trip to Tasmania to visit cherry orchards,
and learn more about the industr y, before
deciding to venture into the market in the
“What we discovered took us by surprise:
we found that the best net profit orchard
was just 2ha in size,” he said.
“The larger operations seemed to be
over whelmed with development costs,
exposure to risk and were unsustainable in
the longer term.”
■ Larger operation get overwhelmed
■ Great potential in Lower SE
■ Biodynamics solves multiple problems
☛ AT A GLANCE
The partnership looked at local
consumption and decided to venture into
the cherry industry, with a focus on
farmgate sales and value-adding.
“We pooled our money and Alexi and I
became silent partners, overseeing the
business partnership, while Henr y developed
and managed the orchard,” Mr Kentish said.
“We pulled out 4ha of lemons and
planted 3500 new trees while revamping
the older 2500 trees and installing a micro-
Mr Kentish has consistently adhered to a
ground-up, holistic approach to farming
and the orchard was no exception.
“I introduced fertiliser biodynamically
and believe that getting the soil and
nutrients right puts you on the right track
from the outset,” he said.
An organic fruit and vegetable shop was set
up adjoining the orchard, to increase cash-
flow, while the young trees were maturing.
The shop opened six days a week, from 2005
to 2008, and also worked in conjunction
with a local baker y, making cherry pies.
“This was the lowest cost way to fix the
cashflow problem,” Mr Kentish said, “but
we had the right idea and wrong location, so
after two years we closed the shop because
the cashflow issue had been solved.”
Mr Kentish believes that although his is
one of two remaining cherry orchards in
the lower SE, there are many benefits to
growing them in the region.
“We have a captive market and we can
produce cherries when nobody else can,”
“On the flip side, the distance to markets
is problematic and there is the occasional risk
of flooding the market, if we produce more
cherries than Mount Gambier can eat.”
Mr Kentish said he never never believed he
would be him running the orchard, but last
season was to become his first full season,
after the Bosmans decided to make the move
to Queensland to begin a new venture.
Labour of love underpins
strong farming practice
Nic Kentish looking at new cherry buds at his Masasa Farms cherry orchard at Mount Gambier.
Bishop recognised at CGA conference
SOUTH Australia has its first
life member of the Cherry
Growers Association of
Australia with the induction
of industry identity Bill
Bishop (pictured with
newly-elected CGA national
president Andrew Smith,
left, and CGA vice-president
and SA president Grant
Mr Bishop, from Basket
Range, was presented with
the life membership plaque
at the annual conference in
Adelaide. He served as a
delegate to the CGA for SA
over many years and held
the position of national
president in the early 1980s.
1800 888 114
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