MP picks a winner and backs Hailstorm Heroes campaign

MP picks a winner and backs Hailstorm Heroes campaign

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has thrown her support behind a 'buy local' campaign instigated by South Australia’s hailstorm-affected apple and pear growers.

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie discusses the Hailstorm Heroes campaign with Ashley Green at his Hillview Fruits apple and cherry orchard at Lenswood. Inset: An example of some of the hailstorm damage that may appear on apples.

Called “Hailstorm Heroes”, the campaign is being coordinated by Hort Innovation and is being delivered in partnership with the local industry. The campaign aims to encourage consumers to look beyond the hail damage spots on their fruit.

Rebekha has included Hailstorm Heroes in her ‘Mayo Menu’ campaign to promote local produce and producers and is promoting the campaign on her social media.

“You should never judge a book by its cover. The same goes for our local apples and pears this season which I have sampled and I can assure you they are still delicious,” Rebekha said.

“Like many other Hills residents I can remember that bad hailstorm in October last year that damaged more than 80 per cent of our budding apples and pears.

“But since then our growers have enjoyed excellent growing conditions and the fruit that survived the hail has matured into a delicious crop.

“The apples and pears don’t look as perfect as we’re used to seeing in our fruit and veg stores and supermarkets, but I don’t mind a few beauty spots on my fruit.”

Rebekha recently visited Ashley Green’s Hillview Fruits apple and cherry orchard at Lenswood and spoke to Susie Green, the Chief Executive Officer of the Apple & Pear Growers Association of SA.

Susie said growers were expecting up to half of the Hills’ average annual crop of 40,000 tonnes of fruit to have blemishes.

Some growers with badly-damaged orchards thinned out their trees to avoid the cost of picking.

“There will be a lot of fruit coming into South Australia from interstate so this (Hailstorm Heroes) campaign is part of preserving our market share,” Susie said.

“And it’s not only about supporting farmers, it about supporting the pickers, the workers in the shed, the people who service our tractors and the wider community.”

Rebekha said buying blemished fruit was one way consumers could ensure they were definitely buying locally grown produce.

“So I’m urging everyone to look beyond the beauty spots and support our growers by buying Hailstorm Hero apples and pears,” she said.

“My recent Mayo Menu social media campaign supporting local producers has featured a recipe using our delicious Adelaide Hills fruit so I encourage people to go to my website rebekhasharkie.com.au.”

Royal Gala apples and Williams pears will be the first Hailstorm Heroes at supermarkets and greengrocers.

The hail marks may actually be more visible on popular varieties harvested in late autumn such as Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples and Packham pears.