A farm in southern Western Australia, tired of having to make its fruit “pretty” for supermarkets, has opened its own cafe to sell direct to consumers.
- A pomegranate farm in Napier WA has opened its own cafe and no longer sells in markets
- The farm was tired of having to wax and politicize fruit with no return, and found another source of income
- Pomegranate Hill is Australia’s first pomegranate farm to open an on-site cafe
After years of battling prices and market expectations, Pomegranate Hill, based in Napier, 40 miles north of Albany, changed its business model to supply the niche product directly to buyers.
Co-owners Deb Walker and Robert Sutton said the change came after years of struggling to make a profit selling to supermarkets.
“We sent some to market a few years ago…basically you have to polish them…wash them with some kind of disinfectant and then they expect us to wax them to polish them to make them look nice,” Mr. Sutton said.
“All that work, then you have to deliver it and get very little out of it.
“There’s a bit of money coming in, and it’s always nice to have it coming in and not just going out, as it has been since 2017 when we first planted the first trees. .
Ms Walker said the hope was they could “cut out the middleman”.
“Because the whole idea of our growing pomegranates was to provide the fresh and original fruit at a reasonable cost due to its high antioxidant content and health benefits,” she said.
Easy access for local consumers
Pomegranates can be hard to find in supermarkets, but Farm Cafe offers consumers an easy way to stock up on produce.
The cafe has been “flooded” since it opened the second week of August.
“I have to say we’re the first pomegranate farm in Australia to have a cafe on the farm where we grow the trees…so it’s nice to be able to provide that,” Ms Walker said.
Mr Sutton says the pomegranate is not a popular fruit to grow, although the demand is there.
“It’s good to be the first… [to] be the pioneers. And [growing] pomegranates – it’s a bit of a niche market,” he said.
“The dream comes true” after a long journey
Opening the cafe was a dream come true for the duo, who shared their journey to get to where they are today with the business.
Ms Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and underwent chemotherapy and a radiological lumpectomy.
“While I was doing all this, my niece came and she visited us and she said, ‘You have to get [pomegranates] in your feed Deb’,” she said.
“None of us knew anything about grenades at this point.”
The couple started the pomegranate farm from scratch after researching the qualities of the fruit and its antioxidants.
“I think it gave Robbie a sense of comfort and his way of caring for me was to research. The more he researched, the more his curiosity was aroused,” Ms Walker said.
“So we planted some tests [trees] …then he said, ‘Are we going to have some 100?’ And now we’re at nearly 5,000.
“Here we are, eight years later…I’m in remission and [it] fills my heart to see what Robbie and I have created.”