Plans for a family trip around Australia took a slight detour for Daniel and Sarah Williams when a property for sale in Neergabby, plentiful with fruit trees, caught their eye. Stirring Dan’s long-held desire to turn his hand to farming, the couple purchased the property in April 2016 and Guru Fruit was born.
Growing avocados, apricots and the sweet, plump Kensington Pride mangoes that are in peak season now in the Northern Valleys, Guru Fruits brings together Dan’s calling to give farming a go (despite no previous experience), and the family’s wish to maximise their time spent together.
“I always wanted to farm; living and working at the same place was the big drawcard,” says Dan, and with studies showing Perth residents spend up to 600 hours a year commuting to work, you can understand why.
With 780 mango trees, 240 avocado trees, and 370 apricot trees flourishing under his care, it is evident Dan has successfully navigated the steep learning curve he found himself on when they first purchased the property.
“The trees were very run-down, everything was yellow,” he says. “I thought it was going to be quite easy, then the neighbours are asking, are you doing this, are you going that, and I realised there was a bit to learn,” laughs Dan. He has spent many hours consulting handbooks and joining industry-related groups such as Southern Mango Growers Group to boost his knowledge.
The unpredictable art of farming is not for the faint of heart. “It’s pretty challenging. You never know what’s going to happen – a hail storm could wipe you out overnight,” said Dan.
With a background ranging from cray fishing to demolition, Daniel’s aptitude for completing all maintenance-related tasks from reticulation to mechanical faults has been a huge asset for the business. “Dan is very hands-on, very practical. There is nothing he can’t fix,” says Sarah.
Both Dan and Sarah carry out the picking, de-sapping, grading and polishing of the mango crop themselves, with a keen eye for detail. “We polish our fruit by hand, each one individually,” says Dan.
“It’s a bit of a long-winded process, but it’s got to be done for the perfect fruit,” says Sarah.
An apple a day may be renowned for keeping the doctor away, but the old saying could well be applied to mangoes! It is not often you will find such a delicious source of vitamins B and C, potassium, fibre and beta-carotene — a powerful anti-oxidant that can help protect the body against disease.
Kensington Pride mangoes pack a sensory punch, with their fresh, citric aroma and deep, full-bodied sweetness, which is developed during the tree-ripening process.
The challenges associated with their venture have not dulled the couple’s positive outlook and enthusiasm for farming. Selling at the farm gate and through their Facebook page @GuruFruitWA they are confident they will only continue to improve in the upcoming seasons.
You can experience all things mango related at the Bindoon Primary School Mango Festival on 16 March from 8am-2pm.