Back to basics at Kalangadoo Organic

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By Georgina Hore

Two South East apple growers are getting back to the basics and bringing fresh, delicious produce to their local community.

Chris and Michelle McColl from Kalangadoo Organic wanted to reduce their food mileage and make sure their local community had access to the great produce the region has to offer.

“Our main focus is to grow the tastiest, most nutritious fruit,” Michelle says.

“We started out with just five varieties of apples and we’ve ended up with 30 main varieties and we’ve also introduced peaches.

“We are very focused on local and success for us is selling as much as we can as close as we can to home.”

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Chris and Michelle McColl from Kalangadoo Organic

The pair is also encouraging other growers to get on board, selling on a small scale to make local produce available and accessible to those in the region.

“It seems to us such a shame that we are living in this highly productive part of the state  and yet it is often quite hard to access fresh, local fruit and vegetables and produce,” Chris says.

“We were involved in getting the farmers market going in Mount Gambier and that is one way to make local food accessible to the community – we want to focus on localisation not globalisation – supplying local needs.

“Food seems to get sent off to be processed by big factories and added with preservatives that is impacting people’s health – so we are all about providing fresh produce that is keeping people healthy and money within the community.”

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Packing Jonagold organic apples by hand

Both Chris and Michelle McColl have a background in agricultural science and about 30 years experience in horticulture from Central Australia to the Middle East.

Their four children have helped plant, prune, pick, pack and deliver their fruit and juice and a number of furry and feathered friends have helped the orchard become truly organic.

From chooks, geese, maremma dogs and Jersey cows to bees and native birds the McColls run a range of animal species in the orchard as a natural critter control.

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Geese do a great job controlling grass in an orchard

If we can get healthy soil, then we’ll have healthy plants and then we’ll have healthy people,” Michelle says.

“What we’ve been focused on in the past few years is trying to incorporate animals or poultry into the system and encourage native birds and insects to do the work for us.

“In Australia we have a substitution mentality where people think changing from a non-organic chemical to an organically certified chemical or product to kill the pests and it’s not how natural ecosystems work.

“So we are a trying to develop a natural system and we are very conscious of nutrients staying on the orchard where we can.”

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