The Mario’s Citrus farm was purchased over 60 years ago in Griffith NSW, and even though the third generation have taken the reigns, Jason’s nonna, the Matriarch of the family, is still working in the fruit shed! Listen to hear more of the impressive Pandolfo family.
GOLDEN GROVE CITRUS
What we can’t get from our own 150 acre farm, we source from many different regions across Australia, including beautiful Griffith. 4th Gen brothers Javier and Torren from Golden Grove Citrus have been supplying Eastcoast with citrus for many years, and we had the pleasure of visiting their farm and hearing about their family history. Check out their story!
kidman way citrus
We caught up with the Trimboli’s at the Kidman Way Citrus farm in the Riverina region. They have been in business for over 25 years, and the strength of their family unit shines through in every piece of citrus they supply us. Join us on a virtual tour of their citrus haven and hear about the story behind the produce.
Joe’s Citrus is located in Tharbogang, just outside of Griffith NSW. They have been in the citrus growing business for close to 60 years, and second generation Pat, Frank and Bruno are continuing the legacy. Along with supplying Eastcoast and other juice companies with their delicious fruits, they also supply Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane markets.
Brian grew up on a citrus farm in the Hills District and managed his parent’s farm from a young age. His Central Coast story started when he purchased a Mangrove Mountain citrus farm in 1965. Back then, he sold oranges and lemons through an agent and to fresh juice manufacturers in Sydney, Gosford and Parramatta.
Many juicing factories closed after the influx of cheaper concentrate. Consumers also started to favour unblemished fruit at the markets. Brian explained the impact of this on the local Central Coast growers. ‘Our local oranges are absolutely delicious but they’re not always pretty! Once buyers started favouring appearance over taste, it became more difficult to sell our fruit at the markets.’
Surplus citrus fruit became a problem on the Central Coast and that motivated Eastcoast Juices to set up their own fresh fruit juice manufacturing. ‘Their initiative really helped all the local growers,’ Brian said. ‘To this day, once our fruit is harvested, Eastcoast Juices packs our blemish-free oranges and lemons for the Sydney Markets and squeezes the tasty surplus for fresh juice.’
Brian plays tennis with Frank from Eastcoast and still feels part of the family. ‘For 25 years, I’ve supplied the best oranges and lemons that I could. They are a great family and I’m proud to have contributed to Eastcoast Juices and be a part of their success story.’
Brian helped with a video and photo shoot for Eastcoast. He laughs about his newfound fame. ‘I’m always having friends and family telling me they’ve seen my photo in a supermarket somewhere! I feel quite famous!’
Reg Bennett’s farm is a story about family and community. His father bought 80 acres of prime Mangrove Mountain land in 1936 to grow oranges and lemons. He cleared 14 acres by hand with a combination of gelignite and hard work. After the war, bulldozers finished the job. Today, Reg and his brother are successful second generation farmers with 40 acres each.
Reg has seen the changing citrus landscape over the years. ‘There used to be a few thousand acres of citrus on the Central Coast,’ Reg said. ‘When concentrate came in from overseas, it put most local farmers out of business. We diversified into summer fruits, passionfruit and tomatoes. Once upon a time, growing passionfruit and tomatoes was like an apprenticeship for farmers; it’s where you started out before you made the grade as a citrus grower. We returned to our roots and that kept us going until the demand for fresh juice returned.’
Reg is full of praise for the Lentini boys at Eastcoast Juices. ‘We work well together. Unlike most fresh juice manufacturers, the Lentini family are farmers and fruit growers. They understand everything there is to know about citrus, and they also appreciate our challenges. They’re fair to the farming community and, in return, we do everything we can to help them supply the best Australian fruit juice.’
With three children, seven grandchildren and 40 acres of precious citrus fruit, Reg doesn’t have much time for hobbies, although he enjoys a game of tennis with Frank at Eastcoast Juices. Reg is well known locally on the Central Coast, as evidenced by his Order of Australia award for service to his community, and his invitation to be an Olympic torchbearer in 2000. A true story of family and community!
With 6,000 citrus trees to care for on Wyuna Farm, it’s just as well that Rodger Wilson loves the great outdoors. Rodger and his wife Lorraine have farmed here since 1965, and the family history goes back even further.
Lorraine’s father Ray Walpole bought 20 acres of Kulnura bush back in 1933. Once the land was cleared, he grew carrots, beans and tomatoes while his newly planted citrus trees were maturing.
Lorraine married Rodger and after a spell in New Zealand, they returned to the family farm to help Ray. That was 1965 and they have never looked back! Today, along with son Greg, they grow oranges for Eastcoast Juices and have four meat chicken sheds.
Rodger is passionate about Eastcoast’s juice. ‘It’s the best fruit juice in Australia,’ says Rodger. ‘Quite simply, their fresh orange juice tastes like an orange should taste. You can’t get better than that. The Central Coast is a fantastic region for growing oranges: 99% of our Valencias are used for fresh juice.’
Rodger’s other passions are the Rural Fire Service, Rotary Club and the development of a local Harvest Trail. ‘Lorraine is very involved in agri-politics, and we are both members of the Central Coast Plateau Chamber of Commerce. We want to get farmers on board for a structured Harvest Trail with gate sales to the public. Harvest festivals are always popular so a mapped trail would bring more visitors to the Central Coast and boost local farming businesses.’
Thirteen years ago, the Hoddle family decided to take advantage of their perfect climate and land to grow citrus fruits. They now have 23,000 trees across 40 hectares, supplying Eastcoast Juices with the sweetest, juiciest Salustiana oranges throughout winter and spring.
With three generations of farming history behind him, Robert Hoddle knows a thing or two about sustainability. Robert takes care of the environment by using the latest drip irrigation technology, integrated pest management and recycled citrus peel.
Robert explains about his water-saving farm. ‘Citrus uses water very economically, giving a higher return per megalitre of water. Just by growing citrus, we’re using Australia’s scarce resources well. In addition, our precious underground water is drip fed straight to the tree roots so there is no wastage or ground evaporation. We also use the drip system for fertilising, choosing environmentally friendly carbon fertilisers to enhance the soil.’
‘For pest control, we’ve put a lot of thought and effort into our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program,’ says Robert. ‘Predator wasps control the insects, minimising the need to use pest control sprays. This is obviously healthier for everyone.’
Robert’s delicious Salustiana oranges make the four hour journey to Eastcoast’s Central Coast juice facility, but the peel comes back to Gunnedah. ‘After squeezing the fruit, Eastcoast returns the energy-rich citrus peel for our beef cattle feed, so we have this whole circle of life approach to farming.’
Robert’s farm is accredited under Freshcare’s Food Safety & Quality program, and he is passionate about truly fresh orange juice. ‘I really hope that people understand the difference between wholesome Australian Eastcoast orange juice and other juices. You can certainly taste Eastcoast’s freshness and natural sweetness when compared to imported or reconstituted juices, and because it is so fresh, it maintains more beneficial nutrients and vitamin C.’
Looking to the future, Robert says, ‘We’re really pleased that our sons and daughter have joined the business to continue the family tradition of helping Eastcoast Juices make great tasting, sustainably produced Australian orange juice.’