AN INGENIOUS idea has been embraced by a Bilpin fruit grower who is looking to save the existence of the Hawkesbury’s fruit tree industry, which fell under threat when the 90-year embargo on New Zealand fruit imports was lifted in 2010.
Bilpin Fruit Bowl, which has been owned and run by the Tadrosse family for 30 years, is one of Australia’s leading suppliers in locally grown apples and peaches, and has kicked off the third year of its ‘Adopt a Fruit Tree’ program — the only one of its kind in Australia.
‘‘When the federal and state governments announced they were going to allow the importation of fruit, my fear was ‘how will Australian farmers survive?’,’’ Mrs Tadrosse said.
‘‘We produce enough fruit here to sustain Australia, but because of the threat of imports we can’t make a living out of it.’’
After the import decision, Mrs Tadrosse turned to the internet in hope of finding a unique way to keep the Bilpin orchard alive.
‘‘I discovered the ‘Adopt a Fruit Tree’ program which was in England and the US. It seemed quite easy and hadn’t been done here before, so we decided to try it.’’
With just 50 fruit trees adopted out in the first year, at $132 per tree a year, there are now about 200.
‘‘Everyone who does it absolutely love it,’’ she said. ‘‘They are amazed at the fruit quality, how fuss-free it is and why nobody else does it.’’
When it comes to the excitement of picking fruit from ‘your’ tree, Mrs Tadrosse said age doesn’t matter.
‘‘A lot of people come up here as a family and bring their children and grandchildren,’’ she said. ‘‘It also teaches children where fruit comes from and how it’s grown.
‘‘I’ve seen one-year-olds running up to fruit trees and picking from them, and it’s also nice to see the reaction of older children when they bite into a fresh apple.’’
Mrs Tadrosse said the ‘Adopt a Fruit Tree’ program is also a unique gift to give someone.
‘‘One lady who received the tree as a Christmas present came to pick her fruit, and she was so excited that she had made an apron to wear,’’ she said.
On average people will receive 50 to 60kg of fruit from their tree and can pick as little or as much as they like.
‘‘We maintain the trees throughout the year when they are ready I give them a call and they come and pick the fruit. Most people go gung-ho and share it around with their family, friends, neighbours and co-workers, but others will leave some.’’
The fruit left behind is sold at market, with the money made matched dollar-for-dollar by the Bilpin Fruit Bowl, which is then donated to the Cancer Research Unit of Westmead Children’s Hospital.
With the Tradosse’s losing money by sending their fruit to the markets, they are hoping to adopt out 50 to 70 per cent of their orchard and encourage locals to jump on the bandwagon to keep Australians eating Australian fruit.
‘‘If we don’t, farmers like us won’t survive,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s a good thing. It’s helping keep Australian farmers productive and the fruit is grown to Australian standards.’’
For more information or to adopt a fruit tree contact Margaret Tadrosse on 0404 061 262, or visit www.bilpinfruitbowl.com.au