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Australia: Mini cuke grower doubles acreage to 5 ha

When Australian Gerry Harvey asked Andrew Young to put together a business plan for land he owned, the latter started conducting research by visiting many locations worldwide. This eventually resulted in the creation of Family Fresh Farms in Peat's Ridge, north of Sydney: a brand new facility growing an overlapping crop of mini snack cukes.

Biomass heating
Family Fresh Farms doubled their acreage by adding another 2.5 hectare greenhouse last year. Because there's no natural gas in the area, bio-energy is used to heat the greenhouse. Not just environmentally friendly, biomass has proved economical with the escalating cost of LPG, Andrew tells us. "The Justsen boiler and Javo loader have been great tools."

Mini cukes for maximum return
The mini cucumbers produced at the greenhouse are supplied to Perfection Fresh, who supply all the major grocery chains. Andrew says it's difficult to grow this crop profitably, often needing twice daily picking to stay within size. But specializing has paid off, because, in Andrew's words: "We do it when others can't!"

To pick all those snack cucumbers, workers are needed. By participating in the Seasonal Worker Programme, Family Fresh Farms contributes to the economic development of Vanuatu. When it's harvest time, workers arrive from Vanuatu. They come for six months, go home, and return six monthslater.

Andrew is very pleased with this arrangement. "Vanuatu workers are generally very humble, appreciative and willing to follow instructions. They live in good accommodation on the farm."

Family Fresh Farms have got a solid operation going, it seems, especially considering this is their first foray in this sector. So are there any plans for expansion? "At 2 x 2.5 hectares, we are at maximum on this site", Andrew tells us. But there is still room for expansion: "We are evaluating sites elsewhere. It seems, as is true for most businesses, that if it is run professionally it can be sustainable."

For more information:
Family Fresh Farms
13 Kilpa Road
Peats Ridge
NSW 2250
+61 (0)418 711412

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