Welcome to the November Edition of Fresh Perspective.
As we start the ramp-up toward Christmas - our busiest time of year, we hope you’ll have time for a quick cuppa and read of our newsletter. This month we begin our regular features on some of Pershouse Produce's growers, starting with our dear friends at Quirk Brothers, Robert and Susan Quirk.

We are also profiling one of the young guns at Pershouse Produce, Cameron Kedwell, after introducing you to one of our elder statesmen, Dario Vescovi in October’s newsletter.

And we also have a snapshot of the coming mango season courtesy of Greg King, Pershouse’s Grower Liaison.

Thank you for your encouraging comments on our first edition of Fresh Perspective. And remember, we are always looking for news so please don’t hesitate to send your story ideas to laura@pershouse.com.au.

Staff Profile – Cameron Kedwell
A genuine love of people, and attraction to the lifestyle was the main impetus for Cameron Kedwell to follow his father Peter into the produce marketing game.

“And having such great mentors as Dad and David Pershouse to teach me the ropes was just too good an opportunity to pass up” said Cameron.

“I can remember coming into the Markets with dad when I was just a little bloke. Then, as we got older, my brother Logan and I would spend all of our school holidays working with dad. Our main job was ‘throwing melons’ – back breaking work. But we kept coming back!”

Cameron finished Year 12 at Brisbane Boys College (BBC) where he was an outstanding sportsman, representing BBC
in the First XV rugby union side and also in the First VIII rowing team.

"The early morning training sessions for rowing were a great preparation for the early starts at the Markets. And the mental toughness required of representative sport has served me well in terms of being able to compete in this environment which is a hard game by any standards."

“I decided to make a career in the produce wholesaling industry in my early teens. I really enjoyed talking with the growers, and I loved the whole atmosphere of the Markets. Its busy, but its also good fun. The diverse range of people that you meet is fascinating”. said Cameron.

Just before Cyclone Larry, Cameron was given an opportunity to spearhead Pershouse Produce’s banana sales area.

“When I first took over the bananas for Pershouse the cyclone had hit North Queensland and there were no bananas around at all. As our main banana supply came from growers in Northern NSW we were able to supply the Market and get a good footing in the banana sales business.”

“But of course, the North Queensland crops came back on line and things settled down. I have been looking after bananas now for a few years and we have certainly added some quality North Queensland growers into our supply mix.”

“My goal is to continually build on this base to ensure that Pershouse has a strong supply network from all the key growing regions in Australia.”

“With the extra capacity of our Thermfresh banana ripening rooms we have the capability to be able to handle large quantities of the fruit.

“I’ve also added mangoes into the suite of products that I sell for Pershouse and this season is going to be really exciting for both fruits.”

“Fortunately I really love hitting the road and meeting new growers and also visiting our existing suppliers. I’ve found that we all benefit from this face-to-face contact and gain a better understanding of how each other operates.” Cameron said.

Aside from his work with Pershouse, Cameron really enjoys his Rugby Union and generally keeping fit.

Pershouse Grower Profile - Quirk Brothers Pty Ltd, Amiens QLD
If ever there was a definition of ‘the family farm’, then the Quirk Brothers Pty Ltd property in Amiens would be it. Like most produce growing operations, getting produce to market is a family concern, with four generations of the Quirk family involved in the production of vegetables at the family property at Amiens, near Stanthorpe in Queensland’s Granite Belt.

While the area gains most of it’s notoriety for its stonefruit, apples and vineyards, the Quirk’s have been successfully growing mainly vegetable crops for some 40 years.

“Robert’s father purchased the property from his brother in-law. Originally the farm consisted of mostly fruit trees and then we moved into vegetables including beans, tomatoes, capsicums, silverbeet, celery and eschallots.

“Dad’s (Jim Quirk) first main crop was capsicum, followed by celery, a nasty case of fireblight saw the end of our celery crop and this got us into growing cauliflower. Now our main crops are cauliflower, broccoli and lettuce.” explains Susan.

Today the farm has some 28 hectares under cultivation.

Married for over 40 years and with three children, Robert and Susan have been working on the property since 1974 and bought the property from Robert’s father in 1999. Their eldest son, Brad works the farm with Robert, looking after such areas as the marketing of Quirk Brothers produce.

Nicole, Brad’s wife, has also taken over the cultivation of the cops and the grand-children are also encouraged to participate in farming the property, working the farm in school holidays. Enterprising young Andrew Quirk even grows his own parsley to sell to the local butchers!

Over the years, the family has seen lots of change in the industry, including growing methods and technology improvements – not to mention the increased volume of paperwork that goes hand-in-hand with primary production today.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing all farmers today is managing the land in drought conditions, something that Quirk Brothers Pty Ltd are working at constantly.

“We only had 108mm through October and so far this month (November) we have had 29mm.”

“We plant for the water we have, and the water we expect to have during the growing period”, says Susan Quirk.

“Otherwise there is just not enough to grow our vegetables to the quality we are prepared to market. Some growers are happy to over plant, and then wonder why their returns aren’t as good as they could be – the produce just isn’t good enough.”

“We are very proud of the cauliflowers we produce and the way we look after our land to get the best out of it. I hear a lot about how farmers don’t care for the land when the exact opposite is true. All of the good farmers are very environmentally aware and take good care of their property.

“We will give our paddocks a spell through winter, to build up the nutrients in the soil. Robert also uses mainly naturally based products to control pests and fertilize the soil. If you look after it (your land) it rewards you with good quality produce” says Susan.

And quality produce is what the Quirk’s send to market. Pershouse Produce Vegetable Sales Manager Dario Vescovi has been marketing Quirk Brothers produce for over 25 years.

“Buyers want their product. They know that it is good quality and I have never had any problems selling for them. Plus they are great people.”

And we can’t argue with that.

Wedding Congratulations!
Congratulations to Pershouse Produce Joint Managing Director Peter Kedwell, and his partner Margot McKinney who were married in September in the beautiful Hunter Valley, NSW.

Margot is fourth generation in the McKinney family jewellry business that started in Toowoomba some 125 years ago.

We are sure you all join with us, the team at Pershouse, in wishing them a wonderful future together.

Summer Gold in Plentiful Supply
This summer will see a bountiful supply of mangoes and bananas according to Pershouse Produce Grower Liaison, Greg King.

Greg, who has been travelling the length and breadth of Australia meeting with a range of growers, says this year we can expect some bumper crops of bananas and mangoes.

“It’s been a slow start to the mango season, but it is starting to hit top gear now.

“Early in the season, we saw some bad weather hit the Northern Territory which resulted in large fruit drops. There was so much fruit on the ground and not enough fruit to send any serious quantities to market.”

“But, the Northern Territory season has picked up with more sizeable quantities of Kensington Prides hitting the market in late October and early November. I expect that we should start to see some mangoes out of Katherine during the third week in November, followed by Townsville and Mareeba through December and January”

“I recently called on Arnham Packers, one of the premier brands that Pershouse Produce represents, and there is a lot of good quality fruit around.”

“Interestingly, this year we have seen the R2E2 mango variety hitting the market before the Kensington Prides – normally it is the other way around. But that has been the season this year” said Greg.

Greg has also been visiting some of our banana growers and can report that we can expect a steady supply of bananas through December, January and February.

Greg also predicts that there will be a shortage of Victorian strawberries in mid-December through to early January, which will see strawberries rise significantly in price through the New Year.

“At least the girls can drink plenty of mango daiquiris rather than champagne cocktails on New Years Eve” Greg suggests.

You’d better believe it Greg!

Here is a list of just some of the produce available right now* at Pershouse Produce

Broad beans
Brussel Sprouts
Butter Beans

Honeydew Melon
Kipfler Potatoes

Okra Beans

Spring Onions
Sth Gold Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes

*subject to supply conditions.

If you have a story or article that you think would make a great addition to Fresh Perspective contact;

Laura Koman
Ph: 07 3379 3034
Email: laura@pershouse.com.au

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