Strawberry season is under way with the Bargara Berries family business opening a farm gate experience and retail store at Meadowvale.
Michael and Debbie Meiers have an extensive horticulture history in the Bundaberg Region. They operate Ambrosia Plantation Strawberries, Bargara Berries and Meadowvale Seedling Nursery.
The couple have more than one million individual seedlings at any time, and they have now expanded with Bargara Berries Meadowvale.
Bargara Berries Meadowvale is now open to the public at 104 Hoods Road.
It offers the Bundaberg community a farm-gate experience to see first-hand where the four different varieties, including scarlet rose and ruby gems, of luscious-red strawberries are grown along with a retail store selling Deb’s delicious jams and sauces.
“We really enjoy what we do, we love educating people and just talking to people, sometimes we don’t get anything done,” Deb laughed.
“We have opened up here to sell the jams and sauces that are made at Bargara Berries, the fresh strawberries that we grow here, and if people come at the right time, they will be able to see picking, and packing in operation.”
Michael and Deb are true-blue Aussie farmers, who, along with two of their sons Josh and Tim, care more about the customer rather than the numbers, but they did say 80 per cent of their employment was with Ambrosia Strawberry Plantation, because the fruit was quite labour intensive.
Michael said they were about to start their third week of strawberry picking from their 90,000 strawberry plants, and they picked twice a week until the end of the season around October or November.
“I honestly have no idea how many strawberries come off a plant each season,” Michael said.
“I figure we just work, we bank the money, pay the bills and hopefully there is something left at the end of it.”
Deb said the conditions this year had been perfect for growing their strawberries, and she believes this strawberry season will be fantastic with an abundance of fruit available.
“We don’t know what our numbers are to tell you whether this year will be record numbers,” Deb laughed.
“It’s all in our hearts. We really do love it all.”
Bargara Berries Meadowvale under one roof
Meadowvale Seedling Nursery was established 32 years ago and grows a variety of seedlings for local and national farmers.
Michael said since coronavirus regulations came into effect people had more time around their homes which offered them a chance to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
He added there had been an influx of community members looking to buy plants.
Deb said there had always been plans to open a second Bargara Berries retail store with a farm-gate experience, and the recent surge in demand for fruit and vegetable seedlings gave them the opportunity to provide their variety of products, including vegetable seedlings, under one roof.
“We found people were saying Bunnings haven’t got plants, Bunnings haven’t got fruit or vegetable seedlings, and I have plants so I thought I can help the community,” Deb said.
“So, now we are open and selling seedlings to the community.”
Walking through Meadowvale Seedling Nursery there are punnets upon punnets of tiny little seedlings, including individual orders of 20,000 zucchini plants and 80,000 chilli bushes, steadily growing for local farmers.
“We’ve got big farmers, we’ve got little farmers, we just concentrate on growing seedlings,” Debbie said.
“We go back to these farmers and we buy their fruit and veggies from them that we started here, we buy the capsicums, the tomatoes and whatever we can, and we bring them back and sell them at the shop, so it’s a full circle.”
Ambrosia Plantation Strawberries are available at Bargara Berries, Hughes Road, Bargara Berries Meadowvale, and Shalom Markets on Sunday.
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