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The South Australian Grower -- September 2013
Olsen fellowship juices up
By PAULA THOMPSON
ADELAIDE Hills horticultur-
alist Damian McArdle says
a fellowship awarded by the
Advisory Board of Agriculture has
been crucial in his journey from
making perry as a hobby three
years ago to launching his own
brand commercially last month.
The fourth-generation fruit
grower unveiled Paracombe
Premium Perry at the Adelaide
Showground Farmers Market on
August 25 and said the response
But, it has been a long journey.
"I grow pears commercially and
my friend and I just started playing
around with making perry three
years ago," he said.
"We started entering competi-
tions, and had some success,
including winning first and second
prizes at the Gawler Show.
"After winning a few prizes,
experimenting more with the perry
and getting good feedback from
people, I decided to try and push
ahead with it.
"It was also a way of diversifying
the family business."
Damian is part of the family
enterprise Chamberlain Orchards,
based at Paracombe.
His great-grandfather Erroll
established the orchard with apples
and pears in 1932, and Damian's
grandfather Ron and father John
also worked on the block.
"Over the different generations
we phased-out apples, because
it was hard to compete with
Lenswood," Damian said.
The 11-hectare orchard now
houses 5000 pear trees through
While growing fruit is in the
blood, Damian says he has always
had a strong interest in making
"I just really love doing it, and
am passionate about it," he said.
The beauty of Paracombe
Premium Perry is that everything
can be done in-house.
"Everything is done on-site, from
growing the fruit, processing the
fruit, packaging the product and
selling it, without using different
contractors," Damian said.
Damian won the Peter Olsen
fellowship in 2012, which he said
was a major stepping stone in the
process of launching the brand.
The fellowship is awarded by
the Advisory Board of Agriculture
once a year and offers $8000.
As part of the fellowship, Damian
travelled extensively through the
United Kingdom and Europe,
looking at the art of perry and
"Before I even went overseas,
the amount of media coverage
I received from being awarded
the fellowship just blew me away.
From that aspect alone, being
awarded the fellowship was really
valuable," he said.
Damian appeared in various
media after receiving the fellow-
ship, including John Deere maga-
zine, The Courier newspaper in the
Adelaide Hills, and The Messenger
He travelled for five weeks, which
included a trip to Italy to see the
country's high-intensity orchards.
"I was also able to do a one-
on-one training course with
world-renowned cider maker Peter
Mitchell in the UK," he said.
"What I learned in those four
and a half days with him, along
with all the knowledge I gained
from the other cider and Perry
makers I met, has really meant
the difference between making an
average product and a high-quality
product. It's really helped me take
the product to the next level."
Damian said he would recom-
mend undertaking a fellowship to
"It's available for anyone, to do
anything, and it really can change
Peter Olsen 'stepping stone'
Orchard houses 5000 pear treas
Chamberlain Orchards' Damian McArdle pours himself a new
Paracombe Premium Perry at his Paracombe orchard in the Adelaide
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