Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm
The Sunny Ridge property was purchased by Pietro and Rosa Gallace in 1964. Originally an apple and cherry farming area, it wasn't until 1968 that strawberries were first grown.
One of the couple's sons, Mick fell in love with the fruit and in 1975 it had become the dominant crop on the farm, which is now run by Mick and his wife Anne.
Currently the largest strawberry producer in Australia, Sunny Ridge now spans 350 acres of land with properties in Main Ridge and Boneo. The property now grows strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, and avocados.
Sunny Ridge's famous strawberries are sold all over Australia and have been exported to Singapore, Malaysia, the USA and Europe. They have been a feature at the Australian Motor Grand Prix and were even requested by the Queen!The success of Sunny Ridge can be attributed to our desire to provide the consumer with fruit that tastes as good as it looks - every time.
Pick Your Own strawberries officially started at Sunny Ridge in the 1980's. Eventually the concept became so popular that a tourist facility including café was built in 1997.
It is now a major regional Victoria tourist attraction with annual visitation of over 300 000. Travelers come from all over the globe to taste the sweet strawberries with Singapore being the most enthusiastic international market. There is also strong interest from Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and the USA.
Environment- Sustainable Farming
Early in the farm's history, Sunny Ridge made a commitment to establishing sustainable farming practices. The Main Ridge property lies on the natural watercourse of Stoney Creek, making responsible management of this resource essential. Extensive wetland areas were planted with indigenous vegetation to create natural filtration systems around the dams on the property. These wetlands not only provide a habitat for native wildlife but also ensure that the quality of water in the dams is of a very high standard.
In 2004, whilst working with the local water authority son Mathew Gallace realised that the farm's Boneo property bore water was at risk of restriction. He formed a committee of local vegetable growers and they proposed a plan to turn the waste water that was being pumped into the Gunamatta sewage outfall into Class "A" water, making it suitable for irrigating vegetable and fruit crops.
The initiative, called Nepean Sustainable Water Scheme now consists of members from Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, local vegetable growers, Golf courses, and the local council. Their goal is to be using Class "A" recycled water by early 2008 which will not only reduce the pressure on our valuable groundwater resources, but also reduce the volume of Gunnamatta's sewage outfall.
Water conservation is a high priority for Sunny Ridge. While the farm has been able to run its property on bore water and its dams, the preciousness of this resource is never taken for granted. This was proven recently when an unseasonably dry 2006 threatened to deplete the farm's water resources. Before the situation became critical, new storages of underground water were sourced, but practices of smart water use and conservation are always on the agenda.