From the moment we walked onto the fields of fresh produce and met Graeme and his father John, the positive family farm culture was infectious. Graeme and his father have an incredible passion and wealth of knowledge teamed with positive and sustainable practices. For us, talking to the farmer whilst tasting the freshest of produce straight from the ground was such a wonderful experience it really brought home why everyone should experience a visit like this; to truly understand what real food tastes like.
Established in 1988 at the young age of 18, Graeme Pitchford brought his boyhood dream to life in “Pitchford Produce”. Graeme had no practical experience, no market contacts and no equipment, but he had the passion, determination & dedication. His original farm now includes a nursery – where we tasted the tender baby tendrils & leaves – a test paddock to trial new produce and methods; and implementation of sustainable water saving practices and methods. His father – John – joined the business 10 years later managing accounts. Although, the day we visited, John was just as involved in the tour talking about all of the different aspects of planting, farming and picking. He’s a real character, charming everyone and obviously loves the growing side as much as the figures! Hearing from Graeme & his dad about the farm practices and the power of large supermarkets really gave us an insight into all the different business dimensions that farmers now need to explore over and above growing.
The farm produces a whopping 3500 bunches of broccolini a week – exporting to Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne – which is helped by a sophisticated system that is in place incorporating the production of seedlings to growing, planting and harvesting. Over the past 25 years Graeme has expanded the family business to supply fresh vegetables all over Australia.
The success of this honest family run business is attributed to the key values; quality produce and supply whilst maintaining high standards of customer service. As an influential voice for the farming community, Graeme’s attitude to efficient water practices is nothing short of relentless. This helps him minimise farming costs for his 100 hectare property growing broccolini (the biggest mover), iceberg lettuce, baby gem lettuce, treviso, broccoflower, purple dutch carrots and celeriac. Another really important factor for us was not only Graeme’s farming practices but also his recognition of being involved in his community by way of contributing to strengthening the local economy through employment on the farm.
On behalf of all the young chefs, waiters and restaurateurs, we would like to extend our deepest thanks to Graeme and the Pitchford family for their warm hospitality and thorough insight into the stresses and passion given to the fine fresh produce Australia receives each day.
t: 08 8536 0140