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Tim Jones - Wandin Valley Farms

"AU: "Some cherry varieties light, overall similar volumes as last season"

Wandin Valley Farms have orchards in the North East of Victoria (approximately 3 hours north of Melbourne) and in Tasmania and also pack fruit for a number of other growers in Victoria

Tim Jones from the company says harvest started on October 24th and is expected to continue through to late January when they harvest their Tasmanian cherries.

"Many areas of Australia experienced 'low chill' over the winter and some crops have shown to be quite light in many areas. Some of our varieties are a little light, but overall, we are extremely pleased with our crop and expect to pick and pack similar volumes to last season."

He goes on to say that the early cherries have been excellent in quality and as long as the weather stays kind, he expects to have plenty of “glamour” cherries available.

Wandin Valley Farms' main varieties are historically well known names such as Bing, Chelan, Samba, Lapin, Sweetheart and Regina; however, they have some terrific newer varieties which they are very excited about such as Black Star and Sweet Georgia.

The early varieties are Earlise, Earlisweet and Merchant (Tim's favourite) which deliver excellent flavour, in fact, last season the company won the award for the biggest and best cherries at the launch of the Victorian cherry season with the Merchant cherries. It was judged by five of Melbourne’s leading chefs and it gave Tim's wife Alison great pleasure stepping up to receive the award on behalf of the family business. “Bing” still remains king, but everyone wants Regina – an excellent “shipper” with great flavour.

Alison and Tim Jones with Christine Fyffe – local Liberal (Gvt) Member – with Diamond cherry box and export award

Wandin Valley Farms recently also won the Governor of Victoria Regional Export Award and were awarded their “prize” at the Governors residence in Melbourne. Tim said, "It was a great moment for our family and business."

South East Asia is a great market for Australian cherries as it is very close and they have good access to airfreight, but Tim explains that they are also having success into the Middle East and more recently back into the UK. One of the more interesting markets is Russia and he hopes to continue to grow this market in the future.

"Australia Fruits is our partner for the export of our cherries and they look after all the interface with our customers and manage the logistics of getting our cherries to the correct destination. Most of our manifests are transported by airfreight due to the cost effectiveness of this mode of transport out of Australia, but the main reason is to meet our goal of supplying the “freshest” cherries we possibly can. We have a saying within our business – “JUST 3 DAYS”. By this we mean, day 1 we pick, day 2 we pack, day 3 we get to the customer."

The most famous brand is the Wandin Valley Farms' DIAMOND range, but they also have the WVF and Clean Air range to suit customer requirements. They are packed into 5kg, 2kg and a special 1kg BLACK DIAMOND carton.

Last season Wandin Valley Farms installed a new packing line supplied by GP Graders. The new TruSort packing line incorporates 30 cameras to assess the quality of the cherries. Every cherry gets photographed 30 times and this vision is sent to a central computer which analyses each cherry for size, colour and if it has any defects or soft spots. "It has really allowed us to improve the quality 'in the box' and also made our offering more consistent. It’s a great piece of equipment," explains Tim.

Family members who are all directors and heavily involved in the day to day running of our business. From l to r: Martin Sebire, Alison Jones, Tim Jones, Graeme Sebire, Eileen Sebire.

The first recorded history of the family (The Sebire’s) harvesting cherries was in 1896, so they have been growing cherries for a long time.

Wandin Valley Farms commenced operation in 1983/84 when 6 local families from Wandin (1 hour east of Melbourne), who were orchardists in their own right, joined together to form a new venture in North East Victoria. The first cherries were planted in 1984 and since then the orchard has expanded to be one of the largest cherry growing operations in Australia. In 2007, Graeme & Eileen Sebire, one of the original shareholders, along with their son Martin, daughter Alison and son-in-law Tim Jones, purchased the remaining shares in Wandin Valley Farms and have continued to expand the business in that time.

For more information:
Tim Jones
Wandin Valley Farms
Tel: +61 407154837

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