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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Cherry Heaven

Trevor Holmes - Red Hill Cherry Farm

Trevor Holmes is extremely proud of the fact that his pick-your-own cherry orchard is the oldest in Victoria, and possibly Australia.

Originally an apple orchard, Trevor's father turned to growing cherries when the cartage bill to send his apples to the Melbourne Market exceeded the return on the sale of the apples.  He decided there and then never to send fruit to market again.  The following cherry season he put a sign out on the corner of a nearby road and sold the entire crop without leaving his farm. And the customers loved picking the fruit themselves.  Mind you, they were only .05cents per pound (this was before Australia moved to kilogram weights), and the entire crop was sold for $300.

Since 1969, the apple trees have gradually been removed, and the 200 cherry trees expanded to 5000.  The cherry orchard now covers 4 hectares of the hillside in Red Hill.  Nestled in the valley at the end of Prossors Lane, the setting is idyllic, and Trevor counts himself lucky to live in such a beautiful spot.

The Pick Your Own cherry season runs from late November depending on the weather, and finishes in early January.  This season is later than normal due to the cooler Spring.  The Farmgate is open 10-4 Mon-Fri, and 9-4 Sat & Sun.  If you are lucky you will meet Trevor's very cute kelpie X border collie dog 'Odie' - an expert at catching cherries!

TREVOR'S TOP TIPS:

  • * Cherries ripen one at a time, so don't pick the whole bunch at once.
  • * Different cherry varieties are different colours and all can be sweet; pink, red, black, white.
  • * Cherry colour is no indication of ripeness; you need to know the variety.  Taste is the best indication to work out what colour indicates the level of sweetness for each variety.
  • * Fresh cherries are best eaten 'cool'.  Not warm, not cold, and definitely not hot. Straight off the tree first thing in the morning is ideal.

Trevor's favourite varieties are 'WILLIAMS' - he loves the texture, 'LAPPIN' - a later variety, and 'VAN' a popular sweet cherry.  He also grows the much sought after Morello Sour Cherries; delicious to cook with.

Mind you, if you make sure to eat cherries that are 'in season' - the flavour is far superior,  and picking them yourself means you can get them so fresh. 

AND if you visit Red Hill Cherry Farm, Trevor is usually on hand to answer any questions.

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