In the beginning
Located on the banks of the Goulburn River in Victoria lies the gorgeous regional city of Shepparton. The city’s surrounding towns are known for their peach, pear, apricot and plum orchards. This is home to the Sherif family, passionate growers of one of the most delicious of stone fruits, the apricots.
It all started some 74 years ago when Dasha’s grandparents bought their very first 34-acre parcel of land. The family began farming vegetables including tomatoes, peas and beans. The farm was much smaller at the time with no machinery. The work relied heavily on utilising horses to pull ploughs and till the soil. Along with this, there was much manual labour which contributed to the growth of their orchard. Some years later the family invested in a tractor which helped save time and reduce labour. Ploughs and discs were hooked up to the tractor and this helped move the fruit from the orchard to the packing shed.
From veggies to fruits
In 1954 the family decided they wanted a change consequently diversified into growing fruit, and so began their stone fruit orchard. The first tree was planted in 1954 with a number of beautiful varieties of peaches, apples, pears and apricots. The majority of which was used for the canning industry at SPC and other local canneries. Today the family predominantly grows apricots along with apples, pears and plums. Irrigation is connected to the Goulburn-Murray River catchment using a sprinkler system to water the fruit trees. The orchard can’t function without an amazing team who help sort, wash, grade and pack the fruit.
Growing apricots is a whole new kettle of fish pardon the pun, and Mother Nature works in mysterious ways. The weather plays an integral role in the growth of the fruit. Dasha relies on his mobile phone weather zone app which helps gauge the change in weather conditions. Too much rain will cause apricots to soften and tarnish when handled, over-ripen and some varieties may crack. The heat also can contribute to over-ripening and the skin cracking. Dasha and his family are dedicated to growing the business so as to produce more premium tasty apricots for everyone to enjoy!