Strawberry season kicks off in Moreton Bay

12 June 2017

Mayor and strawberries
Mayor Allan Sutherland with local strawberry farmer David Fairweather at the ‘Taste n See’ farm

First punnet strawberries 
The first punnet of strawberries
The first punnets have been filled to the brim and thousands of vibrant, ripe red fruits are ready for the picking - a sure sign strawberry season has started in the Moreton Bay Region. 

Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Allan Sutherland said Queensland’s strawberry season, running annually from May to October, was always a berry exciting time of year in Moreton Bay, with hundreds of local job opportunities expected to be ripe for the picking over the coming months.

“Queensland’s strawberry industry outputs up to 15,000 tonnes of fruit per season, equating to an incredible 60 million punnets of strawberries and injecting $180 million into the state’s economy annually,” Mayor Sutherland said. 

“With almost 80 per cent of Queensland’s strawberries grown right here in Caboolture in the Moreton Bay Region and up to the Sunshine Coast, it’s an exciting time of year not only for local strawberry farmers, but also for local job seekers. 

“As the season reaches its peak around August and September, plenty of on-farm employment opportunities will soon be up for grabs, including picking strawberries in the field or working in packing sheds to place fruit into punnets, checking quality and organising pallets for delivery to stores. 

“While this type of physical, seasonal work may not be for everybody, it could be a great job opportunity for young people or residents looking for some temporary work, to earn some extra money for the family, or simply wanting to learn a new skill. 

Local strawberry farmer, Laura Wells, together with David Fairweather and their families Schiffke and Stothart, have been operating the ‘Taste n See’ strawberry farms at Bellmere, near Caboolture, for 26 years and at other locations within the Moreton Bay Region for 45 years. 

Mrs Wells said the local strawberry industry could be a significant employer of local people. 

Strawberry farm 
Strawberry ‘Taste n See’ farm
Each season, Taste ‘n’ See alone produces around five million punnets of strawberries - 100 per cent of which have been stocked in Coles Supermarkets along the East Coast of Australia for the past ten years - from Far North Queensland down to Victoria,” Mrs Wells said. 

“We’re always looking for more local people to join our team, as a returning workforce means less time and costs spent on training each year. 

“Right now we employ around 160 people who have assisted with planting three million strawberry runners across our two farms, but during the peak of the season we will need to fill an extra 200 jobs once picking and packing gets underway. 

“Our employees are like one big family during picking and packing season - while there’s a lot of hard work to do to ensure our strawberries are of the highest quality, we always find time to have a laugh. 

“We do have a seasonal strawberry stall where people can buy fresh produce picked straight from the farm.” 

And according to Mrs Wells, that’s the best way to enjoy a strawberry, “fresh is best”. 

“You can’t beat a freshly picked strawberry, and we try to maintain that fresh taste, look and feel through the way we pick, pack and deliver our produce to ensure our customers can experience that great, fresh taste as well. 

“A nice tip - before you eat a strawberry, make sure you take them out of the fridge and serve them at room temperature. That way you’ll experience their true taste!” 

Mr Fairweather said his morning ritual involved tasting a strawberry from each block, to check whether any nutrients in the soils needed to be altered to guarantee that perfect taste. 

A good strawberry should be vibrant in colour, have a glossy shine and a vibrant green ‘calyx’ [the green leafy part of a strawberry],” Mr Fairweather said. 

“Our main aim is to provide a quality product for our consumers every time, so a lot of TLC goes into our farming practices to ensure we achieve that.”

For more information about jobs visit facebook/schiffkestrawberryfarm or Stothart Family Farms website

Sweet facts

QLD strawberry industry

  • QLD strawberry industry typically runs from May - October (peaking in August & September)
  • Approx. 100 strawberry growers in QLD, covering more than 600 hectares of land
  • Close to 80% of growers are located in the Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast Regions 
  • Area between Caboolture and Sunshine Coast offers perfect conditions for strawberry growing during winter (crisp winter nights, 20+ degree sunny days & not much rain)
  • Strawberry industry injects $180million into QLD economy annually 
  • Up to 15,000 tonnes of strawberries produced in QLD per season, or 60 million punnets
  • Good opportunity for local job seekers looking for seasonal work

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