Mariginiup gooseberry farm gets off the ground
AN Edgewater resident has realised a long-term dream by setting up a hydroponic gooseberry farm in Mariginiup.
Dean Wakefield and his wife Alex recently established the farm with Kevin and Kathy Stubbs, who own the land.
The Wakefields operated an open crop gooseberry farm in Zimbabwe before moving to Australia in 2001, and Mr Wakefield initially worked in the fly-in, fly-out industry.
In 2017, he decided to return to his farming roots and teamed up with Mr Stubbs as co-director of Horti-Pride.
Last year, they planted their first crop of gooseberries in the first commercial-scale Cape gooseberry greenhouse in WA.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to get this greenhouse going,” Mr Wakefield said.
“I don’t think there are any other hydroponic Cape gooseberries anywhere in the world.”
Mr Wakefield said they chose the crop because there didn’t seem to be any on shelves in Australia, and because it was a nutritious, under-rated fruit, full of vitamins A, B and C as well as iron.
“We are planting in four different sections so we can hopefully provide our customers all year round,” he said.
“Our intention is to try and supply the shops that support local industry.”
Mr Wakefield said the fresh gooseberries were sold through Farmer Jacks and IGA supermarkets, as well as Bunbury Farmers Market, The Herdsman and Boatshed Market.
They are also making jams, dried fruit, paste and other products from the fruit, which Mr Wakefield said were selling well in South African shops around Perth.
After a bumper first harvest in summer, Mr Wakefield said they had about eight casual employees who were helping to plant the next crop this month July.