Home' Smart Farmer : July 2012 Contents July 2012
By MIRANDA KENNY
THE increasing popularity of farmers mar-
kets across the State has proved to have huge
benefits for McLaren Vale Orchard owners
Mark and Lisa McCarthy.
It is at these markets that the couple
sell the majority of the fruit and veg-
etables they grow on their 11-
hectare McLaren Vale and 7ha
Merbein, Victoria properties.
They also run a small farm-
gate sales outlet at their
McLaren Vale property
Who: Mark and Lisa McCarthy
Company: McLaren Vale Orchards
Products: Fresh fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice
fruits and leave money in an honesty-box type
Almost every weekend, the McCarthys sell
their produce in markets such as the Willunga
Farmers Market, the Adelaide Showground
Farmers Market and the Victor Harbor Farmers
"Growers are sick of being ripped-off so
farmers' markets give us a voice," Mark said.
"I really enjoy working at the markets and
being able to interact with customers. We have
many wonderful regulars who have become
The fifth-generation farmer decided to make
the switch to farming after working for CSIRO
and the Department of Agriculture for several
years. He has also worked at Deakin Estate.
Mark bought the Merbein farm in 2000 and
the McLaren Vale property four years ago.
"If I didn't have farmers' markets to sell,
I would never have been able to buy this
McLaren Vale block," he said.
He also met his wife Lisa when run-
ning the fruit block.
"She rang to ask about the availability
pistachios and it developed from there," he
The McCarthys' two properties are located
more than 400 kilometres apart.
"We are not organic but we do things as
green as we can, and limit the amount of
sprays we use," Mark said.
Mark is also in the process of changing the
pruning style and some of the trellising meth-
ods used in parts of the orchard, to ensure trees
and vines are as productive as possible and so
he can best utilise the land he has.
Besides running the orchards and vineyards,
Mark also earns an on-farm income grafting
vineyards. Working in a team of five, he travels
across Australia for three months a year and
this helps cover costs.
The McCarthys aim to sell produce through-
out the year and grow a variety of fruit and veg-
etables on both properties to reach their
At Merbein, they grow pomegranates, pista-
chios, figs, quinces, seedless sun muscat grapes
and sultanas while their McLaren property
grows nine different varieties of apples, nine
different types of pears, quinces, pomegran-
ates, loquats, quinces, figs, cherries, asparagus,
avocados, nectarines, plums, tablegrapes,
winegrapes and mangoes.
A small patch of very old shiraz vines also
produce high-quality grapes at their McLaren
Vale property and these are generally sold to
Penfolds when conditions are right.
The grapes only produce a relatively low
output -- two to four tonnes an acre -- but can
be sold for a premium price.
New varieties are planted on occasion, with
lemon and mandarin trees being the newest
additions to the orchard.
A 'liquid gold' pear and apple juice is also
produced and sold at the farmgate and mar-
In the past two years, the farm shop has
averaged about 200 customers a week.
A grand opening for the new farm shop sign
was held earlier in the year and brought in
120 people, including a minister who drove
up in a 'pope machine' to bless the property.
Mark said that besides selling produce at
farmers' markets, he wanted to value-add and
set up a restaurant on-farm that would use
produce he grew.
The McCarthys sell about 100 tonnes of
apples and pears and about 5-6t of dried fruit
a year at farmers' markets.
• Need to know more?
McLaren Vale Orchards 0418 562 919
Mark McCarthy, McLaren Vale Orchards, sells a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables at farmers'
markets throughout the year. He says the market concept gives growers a voice and a fair price.
Farmers' markets a place where
GROWERS GET THE REAL DEAL The Coorong District Council has adopted the
2012-13 annual business plan and budget
which has as its mandate improving services for
waste management and collection; completing a
comprehensive review of its community waste-
water management systems; completing designs
for the upgrade of its existing office accommo-
dation and adjacent vacant shops in order to
house all staff located at Tailem Bend; undertak-
ing a rate review; and actively pursuing State
and Commonwealth grant funding for capital
works and projects.
Capital spending of $5.438 million on infra-
structure and other assets has been approved.
Major projects include continuing the sealing of
Tauragat Well Road; completing the capping at
the Tailem Bend Landfill site; and undertaking a
$1-million re-sheeting across the district.
Adult education funding
Tailem Bend Community Centre in partnership
with Murray Mallee Community Education
Network has once again secured almost
$150,000 in adult community education funding
from the Department of Further Education,
Employment, Science and Technology.
The funding will be used to run accredited
and non-accredited programs such as workplace
interaction, art, leadlight, community gardening
and wellness throughout the Coorong,
Karoonda East Murray and Southern Mallee
TBCC and MMCEN recognise the diverse
needs of target groups in the 18,000-square-
kilometre region and the innovative partnership
endeavours to continue to provide an educa-
tional service to isolated communities.
No to obesity
The Coorong District Council is one of only
five South Australian communities to make a
successful bid in joining the Obesity Prevention
and Lifestyle program which aims to get local
families, schools, workplaces and shops involved
in promoting healthy eating and active lives to
tackle childhood obesity.
OPAL communities are currently promoting
the program's latest theme: 'Think feet first.
Step, cycle and scoot to school.'
"Encouraging people to make a small change
and be more active by walking, cycling or scoot-
ing to school, the local park or the shops is one
of the many initiatives underway," Minister for
Health and Ageing John Hill said.
"Others include cooking classes, active play
kits from libraries and local fun-runs."
Director-corporate & community Nat Traeger
said the council had to contribute only $20,000
a year for a five-year project worth $1 million.
Two new positions will be funded by the pro-
gram which will be launched by Mr Hill on
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