They're a fruit bursting with flavour and synonymous with summer, and for Gavin Scurr pineapples have been a part of his life for as long as he can remember.
He and brother Stephen grew up on the family farm at Wamuran and they’ve worked hard to take it to the next level after following their father and grandfather into the business.
It is a work ethic which they learned from their parents, finetuned by spending weeks weeding the farm by hand as children and driven by a desire to produce high quality fruit.
“We’re passionate about growing things – that’s ultimately about feeding people,” Gavin explains.
“We grow varieties of fruit that taste really good. That’s what drives us, to have really good tasting fruit and it gives us a lot of satisfaction when people comment on how good our fruit tastes.”
These days, the Scurr family also has farms outside Wamuran, including Mareeba, Katherine, Darwin, Stanthorpe and Tasmania.
And while they grow millions of pineapples a year, they’re now also growing strawberries, raspberries and Honey Gold mangoes.
“All the properties we’ve bought, we’ve developed ourselves. We’ve never bought a property that was established for pineapples or mangoes … we’ve started with a bare block and developed it … doing it our way, putting in the irrigation, building dams to do that, building packing sheds, roadways and that type of thing. It’s taken us 30 years,” Gavin explains.
Their crop numbers are staggering, with 350,000 raspberry plants, 230,000 mango trees, eight million pineapples and three million strawberry plants under the brand they created in 1992 – Pinata Farms.
“We’ve got to keep improving. Our point of difference in the marketplace is we grow really tasty fruit – fruit with flavour,” Gavin says.
And it's no accident, since the brothers have researched varieties overseas before importing the ones they believe will perform best here.
While strawberries, mangoes and raspberries have become a big part of the business, pineapples remain at the heart of what Gavin and Stephen do.
“Pineapples are suited to the climate we have here. In the fruit game, they’re a fairly robust plant – not a lot of pest or disease hurts them – and even if they do, the fruit size might be small but you still get a crop. You don’t get crop failure, as such, so they’re fairly reliable,” Gavin says.
“Particularly the varieties we’re growing now, they’re delicious tasting fruit.”
So, how does Gavin like to eat pineapple?
“Personally, my favourite is still just fresh pineapple … just cut it up and demolish it. That’s the best,” he says.
“Next best is actually to barbecue it – put it on the grill when you put your steak on and cook it the same amount of time. What happens is the barbecue caramelises the sugars in the fruit, so you end up with this nice caramelly pineapple that’s delicious.
“The third way is in a pineapple tart. Pull apart the flesh and put it into a pastry – my grandmother made the best pineapple tarts.”
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