A Victorian first

Up on the hill in Harcourt, local fruit growers Katie Finlay, Sas Allardice and Merv Carr have been busily working to form new venture Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery.
Growing their own rootstocks from seed and cuttings and then later grafting and budding an array of delicious fruit varieties onto them, they are now ready to sell their first batch of ‘bare rooted’ fruit trees to the public.
“We’re the only nursery selling certified organic deciduous fruit trees in Victoria (that we know of),” says Katie, “and that’s really exciting for us”.
Grafting is a dying art, but an essential skill in the production and development of fruit trees. Merv has been mastering the skill for well over 60 years and over time has been mentoring his daughter Katie and Sas to continue on in his tradition.
Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery is just one of the enterprises that form the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-Op. Sharing land with Sellar Farmhouse Dairy, Gung Hoe Growers, Tellurian Fruit Gardens and Grow Great Fruit, this innovative co-op model sees under-utilised farming land being managed regeneratively and collectively to feed the local community.
Becoming certified organic is a step further than most nurseries go, but group certification is just one of the important innovations that HOFC has managed to achieve for its members under the new co-op model, and the nursery has embraced the chance to provide organic trees for backyard growers.
Now is the time to be buying and planting deciduous fruit trees.
“Bare-rooted fruit trees are ones that have gone dormant for winter,” Sas explains.
“When they have dropped their leaves, we dig them up out of the nursery, it’s the best time for transplanting.”
Katie loves helping people learn about fruit growing in their own backyard and providing organic bare-rooted trees is just one part of the story.
“This year we have a huge range of trees for sale including many heritage and hard-to-find varieties, not to mention our extra special ‘multigraft’ trees that have up to four different varieties grafted onto them!”
Orders for fruit trees can be made online via their webpage www.mafg.com.au/trees and close on June 30. Pre-ordered trees can be collected from the farm in July. Any trees left over at the end of the season will be on sale at the Nursery Open Day on July 21 from 10am-4pm.

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