If I was to name the thing I love most about living in the Swan Hill region at this time of year, it would have to be the stone fruit. Red, sweet, juicy and refreshing nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots in abundance. There are people who enjoy fruit, and then there is our family. Proud third generation Mallee fruit consumers, known for their extraordinary ability to demolish a box of fruit in one day.
Unfortunately for local farmers (and us), it has been a slow start to the stone fruit season due to unseasonal weather. But thankfully, we can now – as I found out Friday when a lovely mum handed me a bag of their delicious new produce – officially retire the floury apples for another summer, and delight in an all-you-can-eat buffet of juicy goodness and fruity variety. Bless you, local fruit farmers.
With the largest concentration of fresh stone fruit in Australia right here in our backyard, the Swan Hill region is the place to be for the fruit lovers amongst us when the fruit comes flowing in. While a slight blemish would cause little concern for the consumer, the farmers are unable to sell them to the large chain supermarkets. So there is plenty of opportunities right here in the fruit hub of Victoria to snag a bag of fruit seconds at a fraction of the price of our large supermarkets (and far tastier too).
With many fruit farms situated in the local area, there are plenty of places (too many to mention fairly) – just a stone throw away – to purchase your locally grown fruit. And although stone fruit is more common, there is the opportunity to purchase other seasonal fruits from the region such as strawberries, or even an array of vegetables if you’re looking for a more diverse selection.
There are numerous fruit stands with an honesty-based system scattered along the main roads connecting Swan Hill to Lake Boga, Woorinen, Nyah and further afield. Take a bag of fruit and leave your payment in the box. It’s quick and convenient, and you don’t even have to get your kids out of the car. It is the ultimate kid-friendly shopping experience.
You can also – as I found out recently too – purchase your juicy fruit seconds straight from the source at some of the packing sheds in the area for a really affordable price. Or some will even take orders and deliver them to your door; freshly picked and ready to eat. No travel. No extra handling. And you are supporting a local family in the process.
Although I have enjoyed my apples and bananas through the winter months, nothing quite compares to an endless box of locally grown juicy nectarines and peaches to satisfy the tastebuds of my household of fruitaholics in the summer. It’s like Safeway’s fresh fruit basket right on our own kitchen bench. Approximately 50 percent of our grocery bill each week is spent on fruit. Our kids throw tantrums over fruit in the supermarket. And many have stood in disbelief as an apple has disintegrated before their eyes in the hands of my very young toddlers; core and all.
They say everything happens for a reason. Well, every year in Swan Hill when the anticipated stone fruit season is upon us – and we manage to consume a box of fruit in a day or two at most – I understand. We were put in Swan Hill to boost the local economy.
Time to dust off your fruit bowls Swan Hillians, and take advantage of what produce this glorious region has to offer. And when you bite into your tenth consecutive peach for the day, just remember you are helping a local family and our beloved fruit farming region thrive.