Having operated in the region since 1997, the team at Dons Fort Packing know a thing or two about the growing, picking and packing of local produce.
The family-run business offers a modern, state-of-the-art packing facility in Childers, priding themselves on quality, consistency and reliability in farming and packing.
Owner Annaleise Donovan, who operates the business with her husband Lachlan, said the company was known for growing avocados and citrus but were currently branching out into the macadamia industry at their facility in Isis Central.
“We mainly put through avocado and citrus although the citrus is what we commercially pack, they’re not our trees,” Anna said.
“We have always had our own pack houses but with expansion we just outgrew the area we were in and it was either rebuild on one of our farms or do a green field build.”
Annaleise said Dons Fort Packing in Isis Central housed a large computer-operated packing machine through the middle of the building as well as de-greening rooms and cold rooms.
“At the moment I think we have 45 on staff in the shed and that includes the pack house manager,” she said.
“Then we have our quality assurance staff which varies depending on what products we’ve got coming through as to how many we have doing that particular job.
“Then we’ve got our packers and our stackers and our box makers.”
Annaleise said the company was lucky to have such a great, hard-working team of locals and backpackers on board.
“Agriculture and horticulture could not run in this area without our backpackers,” she said.
“We all have our core staff that are locals who come back every season but we also need others to do the stacking to do the box making and more.”
Annaleise said due to their talented staff, the picking and packing process was usually very quick.
“All of the avocados that come into Dons Fort to be packed, the majority are our own produce but we do have external growers as well,” she said.
“They are all packed into 450-500kg white bins and each bin has a number on it and a barcode.
“As soon as that fruit is picked it is scanned in field by management. That tells us who picked it, what block it was picked from, what time it was finished and what date it was picked on.
“With the avocados in particular, the ones that were picked yesterday will be packed this afternoon, they’ll be in Brisbane by tonight, Sydney by tomorrow, they’re ready to go so we’re very lucky that way.”
Annaleise said an exciting new chapter had started taking place at the company and involved her two sons taking an interest in Dons Fort Packing.
“We have two boys that are in their twenties and they’ve both chosen to come home and they’re working with us in the business,” she said.
“As a parent to think that your child might want to choose to do what you’re doing is just a wonderful feeling; they bring a completely different perspective.”
Annaleise said the Bundaberg Region was a great place to operate a picking and packing business.
“From an agriculture and horticulture perspective there are lots of opportunities here,” she said.
“The soil is fantastic, the weather is fantastic, its' not very often that we are impacted by frost or anything like that.
“It’s a good place to be.”