Working Bee July 2019

We had a wonderful working bee on the last weekend in July to clear the property, commence landscaping, and prepare for reopening on the weekends. I can’t thank enough the 30 plus people who showed up over the two days for their back-breaking work and support of what I am trying to achieve – I

A day in the life….

I decided to pick lemons and prune quince trees today, but the overgrown orchard also benefitted from my motivation in secateuring the thick weed between trees by hand – 3 rows down, 5 to go. I’m sure there are tools to do this (no, I cannot mow over the irrigation line), but right now I’m

My Kingdom for a Quince!

“They dined on mince, and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon; And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon.  Edward Lear

I’m lucky enough to have seasonal access to around 70 local quince trees, planted well over 40 years ago. Until

Pine Ridge…..the home of YVGF!

Still waiting on Yarra Valley Water and CFA requirements to install pipework to water meter, a fire hydrant and hose reels – another $30k unbudgeted expense! This is before we can enclose the trenches and begin beautifying the property.

We are, however, underway on the shop… After some clever advice, we spray painted the roof

Pine Ridge…..the home of YVGF!

We got gas – finally! The metre was installed on 23/8 and we recommenced full blown production on Monday 27th August – 2 months after the move…. Such a relief!

Now, if we can just get the CFA regulations sorted (which our surveyor should have actioned over the past 16 months!), the construction would be

Pine Ridge…..the future home of YVGF!

Still not at lock-up just yet! Windows have arrived after a long hold up in the design and standards departments, but hopefully we can now motor ahead….

We finally cleared the old concrete slab from down the side which took a few days, filling an old dam that wasn’t in use. We’ve compacted it down

Pine Ridge…..the future home of YVGF!

Here’s an aerial shot (high up on a scissor lift!)….impressive, hey? So much of the structure is in place, giving us a true sense of how much space we will have. We hope to have the roof on in the next few weeks and the colorbond shed also finished in that time frame. Our deadline

Pine Ridge…..the future home of YVGF!

The lower level internal structure has been erected so we can actually walk through rooms and visual the size – it makes it so much more real!

The back two sections of colorbond shed needed a crane, and people power, to fix the roof in place.

Over the next few weeks we’ll see the upstairs

Pine Ridge…..the future home of YVGF!

Here’s a design drawing of what our future home will look like – front retail/produce store and back manufacturing plant, with a greenhouse off to the side. I look forward to the day when I can post the actual image of this!

Right now – we have a concrete slab!

Pine Ridge…..the future home of YVGF!

So the greenhouse is up! It’s not powered yet but the structure is finished – giving us a lovely, warm environment to store our farm equipment for the time being… Once complete, this climate controlled hydroponic house will provide the majority of our food production needs – red and green tomatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, capsicum, horseradish

Pine Ridge…..the future home of YVGF!

Along with our factory build comes the need to increase our manufacturing efficiency, hence the investment in additional manufacturing equipment.

Whilst trying to remain true to our ‘hand made’ traditions, we also need to expand our customer base, remain price competitive amongst a crowded market segment, and explore new opportunities, especially in targeting export sales.

Pine Ridge…..the future home of YVGF!

The trees are down and the greenhouse build has commenced!

Our planning permit to manufacture will be conditional on us growing produce, so we have planted an orchard of 200 trees (50 each of lemons, limes, crabapples and quinces) which will take a while to bear the required levels of fruit that we need.


Pine Ridge…..the future home of YVGF!

A change of plan! We had originally thought we would renovate the existing shed, but with the need for more space, it has been decided to demolish that structure and create a whole new building with an upstairs mezzanine – all whilst trying to maintain the old external look. We’ve endured a week’s exclusion zone

Pine Ridge – the future home of YVGF!

So here’s how it’s starting….. Of course you need to look beyond this structure to envisage a retail store and manufacturing facility.

First step, a planning permit – so with the services of our planning consultant, the fabulous Marc Bartsch, and hopefully a reasonable Yarra Ranges Council, this should be a breeze…shouldn’t it?

Imitated Product (Valley Harvest brand)

So our former distributor decided to imitate our product range – thumbs down to them! This unimaginative version of our Yarra Valley Preserves products – the ‘Valley Harvest’ branded range – is still around but not hurting us too much! Remember, the Yarra Valley Preserves brand of jams, chutneys, salad dressing, etc. is the original