Cider rejuvenates local business

WHEN it comes to growing fruit there are two things you can count on says Old Goldfields Orchard and Cider factory part owner Steve Trigwell.

The first is continually lower prices received for your produce and the second is higher production costs.

“It’s very scientific nowadays. There are a lot of gambles involved in fruit. You’ve got to be on top of it all the time,” Mr Trigwell said.

“You’ve really got to be in the top cents per kilogram for all your stuff or you go down the gurgler.”

This has been a tough year for Donnybrook farmers with uncharacteristic weather resulting in the quantity of fruit picked dropping to half that of other years.

However, prices did not respond to the supply drop but remained at normal levels.

At least one farm in the area has been forced to sell up part of its land to keep the bank at bay.

Steve, his brother Russell and their partners are among the more fortunate, having ventured into tourism and alcoholic cider production three years ago.

“It’s a topsy turvy world out there so that is why we got into other ventures,” Mr Trigwell said.

“It’s a steep learning curve for us – moving from an orchardist to a cider maker.”

The change in direction will also help keep the farm in the hands of family members.

The farm has been in the Trigwell family since the 1860s through five generations with the sixth generation children already playing a role in running the farm.

While tourism and the cider operation have proved successful – last year about 60,000 bottles of Reef Cider were produced and sold – the family is already looking for further opportunities.

While there are no plans to expand the cider operations, the family is toying with the idea of expanding the tourism arm by providing accommodation.

“It would complement our business. We’ve got a restaurant, entertainment, things to do and we’ve got the land,” Mr Trigwell said.

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