A KALANGADOO couple famed for their organic apple enterprise will squeeze every bit of life out of the Limestone Coast as they prepare to head east to Victoria.
Kalangadoo Organic’s Michelle and Chris McColl will hand over their popular organic apple farm to new owners after almost 25 years of ownership, opting for a change of scenery to the Grampians district.
Packing their final boxes of seasonal produce this week, the McColls took time to reflect on their business, which has grown into a favourite across the Limestone Coast, offering fresh picked apples through to apple-based produce.
Backed by experience in horticulture and agricultural science, the couple launched the business in 1997, deciding to pursue organic certification in 2002 as spraying the fruit “did not feel right”.
The McColls decided the only way to grow nutritious and healthy apples was to do it organically and take care of the land.
It is this clean green image that has made the McColls a popular stallholder at the region’s markets, including the Mount Gambier Farmers Market which aims to help Limestone Coast producers sell their goods to the community.
“We have tried to focus more and more on selling locally over the years but we have also been selling to Adelaide, including the farmers market there,” Ms McColl said.
“We wanted to sell locally because we wanted to get the produce in the best condition it can be in for people so we thought why would not we sell to those closest to home.
“The community here is big enough and we always wanted to just sell fresh local produce and were very motivated to make fresh produce available to the community.”
Ms McColl said the couple experienced a lot of gratitude and pleasure from being part of the Limestone Coast community, including consistent support and encouragement.
However, it has not always been smooth sailing for the pair, having to overcome some challenges across the journey.
“We have had concerns about black spot fungal problems, which is the classic thing organic growers do struggle with, but we have found there is a market for blemished apples so long as they get to a customer in a good time and still taste great,” Ms McColl said.
“Over the years we have also had some water issues and there have been some varieties of apples that we have had to stop growing because it gets to hot here but overall we have been so fortunate.”
Deciding to pass on the baton to a younger couple, the McColls conceded they would miss the orchard they had built.
“It was something that was inconceivable a year ago and it was a huge decision which was brought about because of health reasons,” Ms McColl said.
“Now we know there is a younger couple that are taking over the reins and we will still be involved in that transition and keep that organic certification.
“It also gives us the opportunity to do some things in life that we have not had time for.
“We will miss the markets the most and being in the trees as well, we absolutely love the growing side of it and the genuine friendships that we have formed at the market which are the ones that are lasting and will continue wherever we are.
“There are people who we have seen each week and have seen their children grow up who we will miss.
“The community has just been so supportive over the decades and it has been quite phenomenal to experience that and we thank them all dearly.”