Business approach helping rosella growers see best year yet

Rosella growers set for bumper crop as value adding business grows


Cecilia Diaz-Petersen of Woolooga and her husband Greg Petersen are looking forward to what looks set to be a bumper Rosella crop this year.

Cecilia Diaz-Petersen of Woolooga and her husband Greg Petersen are looking forward to what looks set to be a bumper Rosella crop this year.

Aa

Woolooga rosella growers go from drought to bumper yields.

Aa

AN increasing number of producers are turning to social media to establish value adding opportunities and create their own market rather than settling for major supermarket prices.

As technology continues to grow in the agricultural machinery and operational world, the rise of Facebook and Instagram marketing is also having a positive influence. 

Agribusiness expert Lisa Lonsdale of Lonsdale Agribusiness said social media marketing had risen in recent years due to its influence and the consumers' need to know where their food is coming from.

"It allows us to do business outside of business hours," she said.

Greg Petersen and Cecilia ‘CC’ Diaz-Petersen began using a large majority of their own produce to create their own products for sale at markets, festivals and suppliers.

Greg Petersen and Cecilia ‘CC’ Diaz-Petersen began using a large majority of their own produce to create their own products for sale at markets, festivals and suppliers.

"A lot of producers can't be in the office usually at 8am-5pm so they can still be selling and making a profit outside of those usual hours for it and the same for the buyer.

"They can't rely on the usual markets of Coles and Woolworths, their contracts are so hit and miss and not reliable.

"We have seen years of it now of the wasted produce that there is nothing wrong with it."

This year is shaping as one of the biggest yet for Woolooga rosella growers Greg Petersen and Cecilia ‘CC’ Diaz-Petersen but it’s thanks largely to a value adding condiment business that the couple were able to survive during drought. 

The couple currently have close to 5000 rosella bushes at various stages on their 100 acre property and have already picked 1.2 tonne since harvest began in January. 

They expect to pull off up to five tonne when picking concludes in June, dependent on the winter weather in May. 

It comes after the pair were two weeks away from being short of water in 2017 and only picked 3.2 tonne of fruit due to dry conditions. 

Rosellas are just one of the many vegetables grown on their property including a variety of tomatoes, cape gooseberry, chilli, okra, bitter melon, snake bean and gem squash. 

CC and Greg said it was good to be known for something different.

CC and Greg said it was good to be known for something different.

It was a love for the unusual products that led Greg and CC together in 2012 when CC began sourcing fruit from the farm for her small jam business, CC’s Kitchen. 

“I was doing real estate and I was in sales before that and I just wanted to get a bit of an outlet from the selling side,” she said. 

They currently have 5000 bushes at different stages.

They currently have 5000 bushes at different stages.

“I just wanted to grow something to take the stress out and started growing tomatoes and all of a sudden tomatoes were coming out of my ears...and I started making relish.”

At the time, the Petersens had been selling their produce to large markets with any that didn’t make market specifications thrown away. 

They grow all of their own seedlings.

They grow all of their own seedlings.

Not wanting to see anything wasted, CC began freezing the rosellas and growing her cooking business to utilise more of their own produce.

While she started off with just four products, today CC’s Kitchen offers more than 60 items ranging from rosella sorbet to salt, tea and cordial. 

All the products are made by CC in a three metre square commercial kitchen.

It takes about three months from seedlings for the rosellas to be ready to pick.

It takes about three months from seedlings for the rosellas to be ready to pick.

CC said they hope to establish their own market through the off farm business. 

“In the drought we were able to survive because of CC’s kitchen, we had a value adding business,” CC said.

CC sells her products online, at markets, festivals and from their 24/7 shop at the front of their property.

CC sells her products online, at markets, festivals and from their 24/7 shop at the front of their property.

“When we had a bumper crop in 2016 of rosellas Greg wasn’t accepting the price we were getting at the Brisbane market, it was just almost giving them away and he said, nope enough of this, we pick them and we put them away.

“The next year we had an awful season and we were pulling our rosellas out of the freezer and we never stopped making jams, all year round.” 

 “It’s two businesses in one,” Greg added.

“The way the mechanics has changed so much since CC’s kitchen.” 

The couple’s innovation extends to include The Big Rosella Festival set to be held for the third time on May 12 with live cooking demonstrations, tours and fresh produce.

It’s another way the couple are aiming to spread the word about 

“All of a sudden there is just this interest about this little farm,” CC said. 

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by