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Sallyann

Sallyann DAKIS

Year of Award: 2005 Award State: Tasmania Agriculture > Horticulture
To study the value adding and marketing of both niche and bulk cherry products for the food processing industry and explore their potential for Australia - USA, U.K., France, Singapore
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We started growing cherries around 2000 on a very small orchard at Richmond, and as things tend to do, the project became more ambitious – somehow expanding to around 7,000 trees.

We found ourselves dealing not only with large quantities of good fruit but large quantities of ‘seconds’ as well, and I have always found it appalling to throw away otherwise good fruit that just doesn’t have visual appeal; hence my project.

I travelled to the US, the UK and France looking at their cherry industries, from the large-scale to the small, to see what they do with their seconds.

It was a fantastic eight weeks away and an affirmation that what we do in Tasmania is world’s best practice, from growing to picking, packing, presentation and marketing.

Eleven years later we are still growing cherries and still looking for that elusive product to use up all those seconds! A few years ago we bought a small-scale cherry pipper and have made barrel-aged cherry vinegar, trial batches of cherry juice and cherry wine, and our fair share of cherry jams, dried cherries, cherry pickles, spiced cherries and cherry strudels. We’ve taken the ‘Pip-a-lator’ to the Hobart Farmers Market and generally created a spectacle of ourselves pipping fruit on demand for the more adventurous home preserver. We’ve sold cherries to makers of beverages including gin, beer and cider, and I am encouraged to see that one large grower is pioneering Tasmanian cherry juice and that cherry ciders and beers are also available.

Over the years we’ve continued to spread our wings with small plantings of pears, quince, black and red currants, blackberries and red and yellow raspberries on top of our long-standing strawberries – a veritable summer pudding in the making.

One of my favourite experiences during my Fellowship was in France – the Cherry Festival in the small village of Venasque in Provence. This was a beautiful castellated stone village that celebrated all things cherry, from fresh cherries to liqueurs, pastries, cakes, preserves and even an exhibition of antique fruit farming tools and old farm machinery, along with evocative, faded black-and-white photos of early French farming.

Tasmania clearly does festivals so well – the Taste of Tasmania, Festivale, the Taste of the Huon, and more lately the Garlic Festival at Koonya and the Tasmanian Heritage Tomato and Garlic Festival – so what are we waiting for?

Excerpt from “Bringing Knowledge Home” published by the Churchill Fellows Association of Tasmania (2016) 

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