You may have already heard the news—Ant is leaving the co-op when his lease finishes at the end of July. It will mark 4 years that he’s been with us here on the farm, and we’ll be super sad to see him go.
Ant’s been an integral and important part of the team that got the co-op established. We honestly wouldn’t be where we are or have achieved nearly as much without him. He’s been energetic, enthusiastic, lively, and fun and it’s been an absolute privilege to travel with him and support him on this leg of his farming journey.
He’s also been a fantastic orchardist, which is no small feat for someone with no previous orchard experience. Four years ago when we chose Ant as the person to take over our orchard, it was a bit of a leap of faith (for all of us). But by any measure, it’s been a resounding success.
He’s maintained profitability, built up his customer base, started a successful CSA (community supported agriculture), introduced animals to the orchard system, and kept the trees healthy and thriving.
We put his success down to a few factors:
- He’d done a number of internships already on different types of farms, so he was realistic about the amount of work involved (and how dull and repetitive the work can sometimes be);
- Ant had already decided to be a farmer, so he had a high level of commitment to make it work;
- He has a really strong work ethic, and always does what it takes to get the job finished (even if it means packing plums until late into the evening on occasion);
- He started with a full set of training resources that we made available to him through the Grow Great Fruit program;
- We were on hand to answer questions and help out when needed;
- All the infrastructure, equipment, netting, trees, irrigation etc. were already in place when he started, so he didn’t have to supply any of that stuff;
- We handed over all our production, sales, and marketing systems, as well as giving our existing customers the chance to migrate over to his list;
- He spent his first year doing an internship with us;
- He’s a very entrepreneurial and resourceful fellow!
This time around we’re not offering an internship (because we won’t be taking over the running of the orchard again in between leases), but pretty much everything else on the list will be on offer for the new person or people. And we’ll still be on hand to help out when needed.
One of the reasons that Ant is moving on was that he found it quite hard running the orchard by himself. Taking on Sam as an intern this year has made a big difference, but based on his experience we’ll be looking for a couple, business partners, or even a small group to run the orchard next time around.
If you’d like a career in farming, there’s not many opportunities to get started that are as fully-formed as this one.
You get to walk into an established, certified organic orchard and start making money from the first year. You get the freedom of running your own farm business immediately, without the worry or responsibility of a mortgage. And you get to do it all within the supportive community environment of the co-op.
The orchard has changed a little since Ant started 4 years ago, but essentially still grows cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums apples, and pears. There are 4,000 productive trees.
The infrastructure that’s provided includes a packing shed, coolroom, tractor, and forklift, as well as access to the communal spaces which include a bathroom and tearoom.
It’s a great opportunity for the right person to consolidate or learn a wide range of farming and fruit-growing skills, while making a living from the get-go.
The right person will ideally have some previous fruit growing or farming experience, as well as experience with organics. To find out more about the opportunity and how to apply, visit growgreatfruit.com/expression-of-interest. Applications close on Jan 31, but we may accept late applications if you can’t quite make the deadline!