Using Your Produce
Produce for Home Consumption
Over the years Gillian Wheatley has produced a dazzling array of recipes for people’s produce.
These have been published in the newsletter of the Blackwood Valley Small Landholders Group (BVSLG). They should still be available on the BVSLG website:
Sometimes it seems impossible to avoid gluts of produce. Plan to minimise gluts of fruit by planting early and late varieties. Minimise gluts of vegetables by progressively sowing or planting a small number of each type of vegetable.
Good orchard and vegetable garden hygiene is recommended. This will help to decrease the incidence of pests like fruit fly. Pick up and dispose of fallen produce on a regular basis.
Alternatively, run chickens under your fruit trees and through your vegetable garden. They will clean up a lot of the pests that might occur from time to time. Chickens will need secure, fox-proof coops for night time.
Produce for Sale
If you are producing for sale, the situation is somewhat different. You may want larger batches of produce maturing at the same time to have enough quantity to market. Where and how you market will depend on the quantity and quality of your produce. Farmers markets or produce exchanges may suit the small-scale producer of raw fruit and vegetables. Check for any stall costs and conditions or restrictions on produce sales, particularly if you are selling processed products. For example, there may be no conditions on selling oranges and lemons, but there may be conditions on selling marmalade made from the same oranges and lemons.
Farmers markets may not attract enough people to purchase all a larger seller’s produce, and there may be a need to travel further afield to larger markets or attend several different markets to sell the produce. Travel and marketing then become major time consumers. Other producers may be in the same situation and establishing a marketing cooperative could be a way to share transport and marketing. Either members of the coop take turns to transport and market the produce for the group, or the coop members employ someone to organise and look after their marketing.
A simple way to market your produce that is not well established in Western Australia is to invite people onto the property to ‘pick your own’. They pay for the produce they have picked and wish to take away. While this simplifies the harvesting and selling, there are some constraints. Visitors could introduce pests, weed seeds and diseases onto the property on their footwear or vehicle tyres.
Also, the producer would need adequate public liability insurance to cover any accidents that might
Markets and Marketing
There are many aspects to successful marketing. A few have been mentioned above. Other aspects include getting your brand known and building up your loyal clientele. This can be encouraged if you have a story to tell about your produce and how it is grown and prepared. More people are being discerning about what they buy, and more are looking for produce that has been grown using organic principles. That could be part of the ‘story’ of the produce. The following website provides a wealth of useful advice on business management for small landholders, particularly if you scroll down to the references to other parts of the website: https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/small-landholders-western-australia/small-landholders-and-business- management
Whatever you do with your produce, there may be, or will be, times when you need storage for the produce before you can use it or sell it.
Some of the options for providing that storage are:
Second hand refrigerated cabinets from shops for the small-scale producer
Custom-made cool rooms or freezer rooms
Home-made units based on purchased refrigerated panels and a cooling unit
A good place to start looking would be on Gumtree. Several companies build, deliver and install cool rooms to the purchaser’s specifications or provide the parts in kit form for the property owner to assemble. Check options and companies through your web browser.