Unique crops key to this family's success

GROWER PROFILE: Susan and Terry Giacosa grow persimmons, peaches, plums, feijoas, and goats on their Applethorpe property.
GROWER PROFILE: Susan and Terry Giacosa grow persimmons, peaches, plums, feijoas, and goats on their Applethorpe property. Contributed

TERRY and Susan Giacosa like to keep their farm unique.

On their 32.5-hectare property in Applethorpe, they grow persimmons, peaches, plums and feijoas, as well as providing home to 70 goats.

"We got into the fruit side because Terry and I were born into it and we continued farming,” Susan said.

Their family had been on the property for 28 years.

Before that, Terry and his brother owned two properties together.

When Terry and Susan were married and had children, they decided he would take one property and his brother would take the other.

Susan grew up with her family growing vegies.

"We grew beans, zucchinis, capsicum, tomatoes, sweet corn and cucumbers,” she said.

"Terry's family had orchards and vegies. They had apples and pears, capsicums and tomatoes, and cabbages and leeks in the winter months.”

Persimmons are the Giacosas' autumn crop while the peaches and plums are the summer crop.

"Our persimmons are harvested from the second week of April right through until the middle of June,” Susan said.

"We're starting next week and we'll be going right through until the second week of June.

"Around two months of solid work, even on the weekends. We have early starts and late finishes.”

Susan said they start harvesting peaches and plums towards the end of November right through until March.

"We hand-pick everything,” she said.

"The persimmons, each one has to be snipped off the tree, and the peaches and plums we hand-pick.

"It's just Terry and I harvesting and the kids help when we need it.

"It's tiring but we get there.”

Susan said the feijoas were currently being harvested.

"They shed themselves, you can't pick them. You put a bit of straw underneath the trees and pick them up off the straw,” she said.

"We've only got a few trials of feijoas and we sent away 50 kilos yesterday.

"We could expand on those, they're something unique as well.

"It's too much for bigger growers to handle but okay for a family business to run.”

Susan said they get between 35-40 tonnes of persimmons per year as well as 50-60 tonnes of peaches and plums.

"We've had a couple of wild hailstorms but we have the whole lot hail-netted,” she said.

"Now we're contending with birds and flying foxes but the netting helps with all that.”

Applethorpe provides the perfect climate for their orchards.

"The persimmons really love the cold nights because it gives them the colour,” she said.

"It brings out the real deep orange.

"We need the cold for the peaches and plums to flower evenly and then we need the warmer months to grow the fruit.”

They sell their fruit in Brisbane and Sydney markets, the persimmons are also exported from Sydney.

"A lot of people are getting to know them (persimmons) but the Asian market is really strong for them,” she said.

"It's only seasonal. You can't keep them like an apple or an orange.

"I think being a seasonal fruit is an advantage.”

Susan says their favourite way to eat persimmons is fresh.

"They are crunchy like an apple, you have to learn to stop at one,” she joked.

While only nine hectares of the Giacosas' property is used for their orchards, the rest they use for running goats.

"We got into goats by accident,” Susan said.

"The neighbours had goats and didn't have the right fences, so they got all through onto our property.

"Our children found the kids in the paddock and brought them home.

"We caught them and asked if he (the neighbour) wanted them back and he said, 'No, they're too much of a hassle', so we kept them.”

Susan said the goats were good for pest management.

"They eat blackberries, other plants you don't want. They keep the surrounds clean.”

Topics:  feijoas goats orchards persimmons