Taralee Orchards is a family owned and operated, biodynamic farm sprawled upon the blessed slopes of Wirrabara, a refreshing oasis of green nestled within the Southern Flinders Ranges. You may not recognise the name, but I’m certain many of you would have experienced the delight of Taralee Orchard’s hand-picked, solar-dried preservative free fruit perhaps at our birthday party, or in the summer months, the sublime taste of their mouth-watering stone fruit.
Fabian & Melanie have described their biodynamic orchard many times to our team, including the tranquil b&b accommodation overlooking their farmstead and extensive fruit orchards, but it was even more incredible than expected.
Wirrabara is a First Nations name meaning “place of big trees”, and as you drive up the dirt road leading to Wirrabara Forest and Taralee Orchards, it’s not hard to see why. Accompanied by the Ippinitchie River, the site is thickly populated with pines. Originally the site of one of the first pine plantations in Australia, it has since been converted to a national park.
Set within this backdrop of green, Taralee Orchards is a stark contrast to the arid fields of monoculture grain crops and pasture which - early in December - are bare after harvest. Two hours driving beyond Port Wakefield yields little variation in this dry landscape, until our arrival at Taralee.
Their property is a wellspring bursting with life and productivity. Plums, peaches, and apricots populate slopes of fruiting trees, as well as peacherines, nectarines, and at other times of year, quinces, apples, pears, pomegranates, and persimmons. With summer ahead, apricots are soon to be dripping off trees. Paul, and children Raymon and Renae, who are owner-operators of the extensive orchard, are geared up to harvest as many apricots as possible within the coming weeks. It is a delicate art timing the fruit’s harvest, as it is prone to ripening all at once.
Taralee Orchards became a Demeter certified biodynamic farm in 2001, which means they incorporate regenerative and ecologically sensitive agricultural practices into their holistic farming method. The orchard is surrounded by cattle and sheep, which are fed third-grade fruit which doesn’t meet the first or second grade criteria for selling. We are lucky enough to receive this free-range, biodynamic meat in the store from time to time.
December through to April is Paul, Renae and Raymon’s busy time of year. They are not only occupied managing the farm and harvesting the fruit of their year’s work, but also cutting, preserving and solar drying the second grade fruit, and making their extensive range of delicious jams, relishes and chutneys from their late wife and mother Denise’s impressive recipe book.
I am awed by the hard work and passion which animates the guiding principles of these kind and gentle folk. Their motto is “working with nature”, and it is certainly evident how both operatives within that motto emerge into life - how much pure and simple hard work goes into their harvest, and also how aligned with nature they are. Geese, chickens and guinea fowl allowed to roam among the orchards add nutrients to the soil, along with their certified biodynamic 500 preparation, which adds fertility and microbial diversity to their already loamy soil.
The property lies alongside one of the peaks of the Southern Flinders Ranges, which means it is sheltered from the harsh, dry, winds of the open plains, as well as attracting a generous 650mm of annual rainfall. This, coupled with their naturally cooler summers, cold winters and underground aquifer of high quality water makes the property exceptionally well-suited to stone fruit production.
Working with nature - the Kretschmer’s know their land like the back of their hand; have spent years toiling its soil and getting to know its details and intricacies. What you see today is a masterpiece of the integration of human and nature for the benefit of producing nourishingly delicious, heartachingly resilient, yet astoundingly simple biodynamic produce, of which we are lucky enough to share in the fruit.
We are excited to journey with you on another year of seasonal local produce. As we step into a new solar year, as well as the year of Biodynamics, it's that time in the seasonal calendar where we can enjoy the simple pleasures of Paul & Renae's delicious biodynamic stone fruit. We implore you to try for yourself their stunning Burbank plums, which we have in store for a limited time. There are a couple more photos on our Facebook page of the visit.
Wishing wellness and simple living,
Raven and The Simple Market team