Matthew PopplewellA fruity story at Hinterland Feijoas

Having lived and work in New Zealand for many a year, there was one particular fruit that I miss more than anything now my gum boots trudge through Queensland. I would describe it when sliced down the middle as the most beautifully looking fruit on the planet (that being its internal organs). On the outside, its oval, light green and in truth looks like an over indulged plum, but the feijoa has the internal looks and flavour that redefine originality and so off I went in search of a local grower here in Queensland.

Set within 11 acres of my local Eumundi hinterland are seven hundred trees that you may struggle to recognise. They are not your typical fruit tree in Queensland. Then again, Peter and Sally are not your typical farmers in these parts as they are organic growers of the tropical fruit, feijoa, and proud owners of Hinterland Feijoas.

Hinterland Feijoas has 700 feijoa trees of 5 varieties

The feijoa is a rare Queensland fruit and a delightfully tasty one that the couple from Belli Park decided to grow to bring a new crop to the region and a new challenge to their farming lives. Now some four years into the exciting enterprise, their business is now a full time job for them both, producing fruit that is principally sold to the local community as fruit, jams, chutneys and pulp. Their hand-made jams andchutney lines are unique recipes created by local chef Peter Wolfe, of Cedar Creek Farm. Classic feijoa jam, delicious feijoa and boysenberry jelly, spicy cured feijoa chutney, tangy feijoa and ginger jam, and a world first feijoa and rosella jam are but a few of their products.

Growing feijoas in Queensland is an immense challenge due to the humidity, the fruit fly pest, poor soil nutrition and the huge variations in seasonal rainfall making the couple’s achievement in growing the fruit successfully that much the greater. Added to that is their desire to make the farm organic. No easy task for a crop and climate conducive to adversity.

Peter & Sally pruning their feijoas

Following a busy harvest season with all the fruit being handpicked, and all of it sold, their time is currently spent shaping and pruning the trees. Each tree can take up to an hour to trim and prune to shape. Hours of pruning is just a small part of their labour required to grow this fruit, and in turn this business, with such rewards.

 

Fruit fly netting on feijoa is a must

I wrote this blog as I always admire those that test to the extreme the challenges that placing a round plant in a square hole can bring. If it was easy, everyone would be growing it right!!. I hope to keep in touch over the coming seasons to see how they come to deal with the inevitable challenges that growing such a plant will no doubt produce. They have already lost many plants upon discovery of a slippery wave of clay through their fields of relatively free draining sandy loam. The summer rains brought these layers to saturation point and feijoas are not keen on dipping toes for too long in moisture. Lesson one. Lesson two was the dreaded fruit fly and the couple have started on a series of netting the rows to reduce the fruit fly’s constant ability to wreck fruit in Queensland,,.. but don’t get me started on the Queensland fruit fly.

June is feijoa pruning month

Although the couple will admit its early days in the growth of the project and their plans, the learning curve for them both is a steep one but one that I for one hope they can climb. It’s a fruit worthy of its place in our hills and in our hearts and if Max Schubert thought he had found the perfect glass of wine, he may not have discovered the flavour depths of the feijoa.

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4 thoughts on “A fruity story at Hinterland Feijoas

  1. helen mckerral on said:

    Good old feijoas, eh? In Adelaide, they’re the bombproof shrub for home gardeners – I’m surprised they’re so difficult to grow up your way! Here they survive anything: my mother’s tree sailed through the drought looking as healthy as ever without an ouce of artificial irrigation or fertiliser, but simply declined to fruit; my tree, variety “Mammoth” with fruit the size of a mouse cursor, bears a solid crop even though it’s not pruned appropriately. They are hugely under-rated plants – great choice for your blog!

  2. Thanks Matt – Beautifully written! Peter and Sally

  3. Liz on said:

    I live in Sydney’s north west and have 2 very successful feijoa trees – one very old that we inherited when we moved her nearly 30 yrs ago, the other we planted as a shade tree and because we love the beautiful flowers. They both fruit – prolifically – but sadly I’m not a jam-maker and haven’t used them. Only just in the last few years our possum population (ringtails mostly, a few brushies) have started to eat them. So instead of collecting those that fall and disposing of them so they don’t rot on the ground, I put them on top of the pool filter soundproofing box and the possums enjoy a midnight feast out of reach of our dog and cats.
    This article is making me feel guilty though – feeding fruit to possums that I should be cooking up a storm with?

  4. Trevor on said:

    I had a Fejoia tree growing at Sellicks Beach south of Adelaide years ago, and always thought they were an under utilised fruit which, like lots of “new” things a lot of people don’t understand. On a recent trip to New Zealand my daughter and I got hooked on the number of Fejoia products available including sweets, wines, chutneys. She is also a fan of Strawberry Guavas, since she saw a plant growing outside a Restaurant at Glenelg in South Australia about 15 years ago.
    I was looking for a white balsamic glaze which I hadn’t seen in Australia, and fortunately there was a link to Sally and Peter’s site. Exactly the “value added” products I am seeking including Rosella and Fejoia Jam (my dad grew Rosellas at Port Augusta in South Australia in the 50’s when I was growing up- he made good use of the micro climate in those days, and grew lots of things that were said only to suit other areas). I have placed an order with Sally and Peter and have found them excellent to deal with.

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