Home' Grower : Dec 2011-Jan 2012 Contents 18
The South Australian Grower – December 2011/January 2012
Name: Robert and Charlie Smith, Smith Gully
Main business: Smith Gully grows about 50 acres
of cherries, 25 acres of lemons, 20 acres of apples
and 6 acres of figs for the fresh fruit market. Apple
varieties include Royal Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious,
Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Golden Delicious. It
also grows green stringless beans from late
December until early May while beetroot, swedes
and turnips are available in winter.
History: Smith Gully Orchards at Monatcute in the
Adelaide Hills was established in the late 1800s,
originally growing a mix of vegetables and fruit.
Today, the orchard focuses on the fresh fruit market,
distributing fruit weekly through the Adelaide
Produce Market in which the family business has
been involved since the turn of the century.
Robert and Charlie Smith are the sixth-generation
to farm the orchard. “With the seventh generation
helping, out we are here to stay,” Robert said.
Despite being a traditional family grower, the
company’s practices are developing with the use of
integrated pest management, a mix of organic base
fertilisers and stress-relief products that aims to
achieve quality produce.
“The customer’s wants are at the forefront of our
decision making,” Robert said, pointing to the
business’ decision to plant fresh figs on a trial
basis ten years ago. Over the years, Smith Gully’s
figs have become very popular, leading to plans to
expand production in the near future.
Employees: The business uses seasonal labour from
November until April when the orchard is at its
busiest, and remains family orientated.
“We all pitch in and run the operation,” Robert said.
“Luckily, I have four boys and a wife to help and
Charlie’s family are all involved too.” He said this was
the most “cost effective” option for the operation.
Marketing: Smith Gully has a site in the grower’s shed
of the Adelaide Produce Markets and sells its produce
to about 40 businesses including greengrocers,
independently owned supermarkets and providores
who supply hotels, restaurants and canteens
throughout the State and into Victoria. Smith Gully has
also launched its own website, complete with an online
‘shop’ taking orders.
Keys to success: Robert said producing a reliable
product had ensured Smith Gully’s business
remained strong even after six generations. To this
end, the family business ensures it “keeps up with
the latest varieties” and “is prepared to change”.
Canadian consumers pay premium
for quality, home-grown products
❏ By ASHLEY WALMSLEY
ACONSUMER-led push for local
products has changed the direction for
at least one Canadian apple grower.
Martin’s Family Fruit Farm, in the coun-
tr y’s largest apple production state of
Ontario, has witnessed a seeming shift in
power, with major supermarkets approaching
them about how to maintain their business.
The Martin enterprise is undergoing its
biggest facility expansion on the back of this
customer appetite for local produce.
Retail sales manager Steve Martin said the
momentum from Canadians had swollen to
a point that the chain stores can no longer
As he led a group of international agricul-
ture journalists through the packing facility,
he pointed out the significant upgrades in
equipment which had been done “with
“I would say it’s been due to the whole
buy local thing,” he said.
“It has also really affected the chains as
well in a sense that their customers are say-
ing we want to see more local product in
the stores so their attitude has really
changed in our opinion.”
“They are saying now, yes, we need you,
we want you, we want to work with you and
what can we do to make sure that you stay
in business and that you have the product
that we need?
“And the answer is very simple: just pay a
little bit more.”
That “little bit” according to Mr Martin,
has charged up a once stagnant industry.
Global competition and overproduction
saw a reduction in the overall acreage of
apples grown in Canada.
Apple production in 2006 was 376,459
tonnes, a 7.9 per cent decrease from 2005,
and about a quarter less than 1996 levels,
according to the Statistics Canada Fruit and
The straight-talking Mr Martin made it
clear he would not divulge numbers but
assured the tour group: “It’s not peanuts”.
Plans for a computerisde defect sorter and
a weight sizer, plus upgrades to building
exteriors and the near completion of an
expanded storage area reinforce that sugges-
tion, as does his admission that the past
three years have been the most profitable in
the company’s history.
But Martin’s Family Fruit Farm keeps a
broad perspective of the situation, declaring
it wants all growers, employees and cus-
tomers to be profitable.
The Waterloo facility also packs for
between 15 and 20 other growers.
Martin’s Family Fruit Farm produces 16
varieties: ambrosia, cortland, crispin
(mutsu), empire, fuji, gala, golden delicious,
honeycrisp, idared, jonagold, mcIntosh, red
delicious, red prince, russet, spartan and spy.
The company only exports about 5pc with
some going to the Caribbean, Mexico and
Some of the newest trees to be planted in the trellis setup, as opposed to the traditional
▲ Apples making their way through the
commit-to-pack processing line.
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