This week on their Mildura farm Peter and Helen Kamavissis (that’s them above) are busy harvesting and packing their green menindee grapes which we’ll be putting in most of our set boxes (although not in our Small Mixed Box, if you’re keen you can get some from theFruit and Veg Section).  Every year from January to March during the grape and melon season all kinds of people flood into Mildura and surrounding towns to bring in the grape harvest.  Right now, with their heads in the vines, boot knives in hand, hardened professional fruit pickers, grey nomads, backpackers and newly arrived migrants are filling case after case with table and drying grapes.  Spare a thought for them working out in that 40C+ heat, I picked sultanas for two seasons and it was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done.
After the grape harvest is over and things have settled down a bit we often see Peter and Helen at the Fair Food warehouse while they’re in Melbourne visiting family.  For the last two years they’ve been dropping by showing us their progress as they develop a range of dried sultanas (we have them in our Pantry).   To survive as farmers Peter and Helen have to value-add and Helen’s latest mission is to make a sultana pack for kid’s lunch boxes. Just sorting the basics of this seemingly simple task are harder than you’d think.  Starting from scratch, how do you get a uniform quantity of sultanas, a product that inconveniently likes to clump together, into a small packet or a little box?  These are the challenges our farmers face daily and I tell you it’s not easy. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on Helen’s lunch-box pack sultana progress.
Meanwhile in other produce news this week – there’ll be fresh green beans from Kane Busch, CERES’ own sweet basil and rock melon from Karra Organics.  Jason Alexandra (no, not the actor that played George Costanza on Seinfield) from Hazeldean Forest Farm called to say his apples and plums will begin in a couple of weeks but for now make the most of Alkira’s white and yellow peaches and nectarines – long may they last.  Tomatoes are finally available and there’s salad greens from Andy at Australian Green Growers and zucchinis from Craig and Shelley Heppell.  Missing in action this week is broccoli while it looks like it’s time to farewell asparagus for the season.
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