AUSTRALIA’S biggest individual retailer of fruit and vegetables, Harris Farm Markets, expects to draw 10,000 people a week to shop at the Bathurst City Centre when they open next week.
A member of the family that started selling fresh farm produce 36-years-ago, Luke Harris came to Bathurst yesterday to expedite the opening of the 21st Harris Farm Markets with a visit to one of the district’s leading market gardeners.
Mr Harris was accompanied by his produce buyer Carlo Ceravolo to inspect John and Michael Willott’s “Ravenswood”, market gardens on White Rock Road, Kelso where fresh cauliflowers were being picked.
“Carlo has been buying cauliflowers and cabbages from Willott and Cooke family market gardens for 10 years at the Flemington Markets,” Mr Harris said.
“We will be buying these vegetables direct from the garden into Harris Farm Markets in Bathurst, Orange and elsewhere.
“Harris Farm will be buying all of the quality fresh vegetables and fruit we can locally in season, just as we have been doing in Orange with cherries, apples and other fruit.”
Mr Harris and Mr Ceravolo said it will mean Central Western vegetable gardeners and fruit growers who produce some of the best quality produce in Australia will have a more direct access to shops in Bathurst and Orange which will mean shoppers can buy as good as direct from the “farm to the plate.”
John and Michael Willott who are third and fourth generation market gardeners harvesting crops from 100 hectares of fertile Macquarie River flats, said they welcome the opportunity to supply part of their crops of 350,000 cauliflowers and 170,000-180,000 cabbages to Harris Farm Markets.
“We’ve been carting our produce by truck from Bathurst to Flemington Markets four or five days per week,” Mr Willott said.
“This should save us a lot of running costs is we can load at White Rock and deliver pallets and bins of freshly picked caulis and cabbages straight to the shop.”
The manager of Bathurst’s new Harris Farm Markets, Paul Nairne, said he is looking forward to returning to Bathurst where his family and that of his wife Tracy have lived for years in Bathurst and Orange areas.
Mr Nairne who has worked with Harris Farm Markets in Orange and more recently Bowral said the new Bathurst shop will open with 50 new jobs with staff fully expecting to attract 10,000 customers, the equal of the volume they serve each week in Orange.
“We will be offering the very best quality of fruit and vegetables at the right price,” Mr Nairne said. “If customers ask us what is the best buy we will always say what is cheapest at any time, because it will be the fruit and vegetables in season.
“People will buy what is the cheapest on the shelf, in season, they just can’t go wrong.”