...Join 'em. My apple trees have finished bearing for the season, so this month and last I've purchased a case of fruit from a character by the name of Denis Angelino from Thulimbah. Denis is a classic. A son of one of the original Stanthorpe soldier settlers, he's tall and wiry, has a mop of greying, curly hair and literally has Granite Belt soil ingrained into his hands. When I introduced myself, he apologised for not being able to wash the dirt off. Denis is the real deal. He delivers his fruit in a 1960-something International truck that he reckons has done 2 million miles and, rather worryingly, has never had a problem with the brakes.
Best of all Denis grows his apples organically. He's not certified organic, but his apples are chemical free and, I have to say, absolutely superb to eat. Kylie and I bought a case (approx 14kg) of Granny Smiths last month and again today, and they are easily the best Grannies I've tasted in my life, packed with flavour and bursting with juice. At $30 a case for first grade fruit, or a bit more than $2 a kilo, they're a genuine bargain for the customer. But sold direct, Denis cuts out the middleman and basically doubles his profit margin in one fell swoop. It's a win-win situation that I'd love to see replicated by growers and customers with all kinds of crops, and in every month of the year. My corner of the world has been slow to catch on, but the more farmers markets, co-ops, buying clubs, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) schemes, and farmstands the better.
The informal group of us at Hampton/Ravensbourne buying Denis's fruit have been promised that the old International truck will be making the trek back up the highway in summer loaded with stonefruit. While I'll always strive for the best from my own trees, I have to admit - if my crop goes to ruin, I've now got the ideal backup in Denis Angelino and his amazing produce.