THE DELROY STORY
There are a lot of people working behind the scenes that have helped make our small family orchard what it is today – none more so than Russell and Jenny Delroy. Two budding first generation horticulturists who started with a simple belief that Australians deserved access to locally grown fresh produce. Russell, the “grand architect” behind the business grew up on a sheep farm in Scadden in country Western Australia. Hot days spent herding, drenching, mulesing, shearing and crutching sheep by day and eating various forms of “mutton surprise” by night all but guaranteed his future was in something other than sheep!
Young kiwifruit vines growing out in our makeshift nursery (1987)
Fast forward a few more years and Russell is still stuck on the wrong side of the Tasman. He has gained a free tertiary education, an inside look into the thriving Kiwi horticulture industry and developed a plan to do it better in Australia. You’d think he’d cash in his chips right about now? Instead – to add insult to injury – he decides to charm and convince Jenny, a local Kiwi girl and possibly NZ’s greatest export, to join him on his mission to return to Australia and start a family and an orchard together.
The search for the perfect place to start their own orchard led them to the sleepy little timber town of Pemberton, located in the deep south of Western Australia. Famous for its tall karri trees, high rainfall and rich loamy soils, it really does make for an ideal place to grow fresh, high quality fruit.
The view from where we’d go on to build our family home (1993)
What began as a small husband and wife operation has since expanded to a family business made up of their three children and a large team of permanent local staff. All working around the clock, getting their hands dirty to ensure we grow the best fruit Australia has to offer. Our business now controls the entire journey of every piece of fruit that leaves the farm gate right up to the moment it lands on your supermarket shelf. This way we can ensure what ends up on the shelf truly is a reflection of the passion and dedication that has gone in to growing them!
Young Russell and Jenny Delroy hard at work (1988)
Given Russell’s aversion to sheep farming, it was somewhat ironic that the family decided to relocate to a farm in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, sheep capital of the world. Luckily for him it was a kiwifruit farm and not a sheep farm. Working here and in their neighbour’s fruit packing shed saw Russell’s eyes opened to the amount of fruit heading back across the ditch and into the Australian market. Surely if you could grow it in Australia you could grow a superior product closer to market. Why weren’t more people already doing it?
Some of our first avocado trees planted in (1989)
With their rusty two door ute and dog Bo, Russell and Jenny got to work. The first tangible element of the orchard was a ‘make-shift’ nursery set up in 1987. That first year was spent painstakingly hand-raising their precious seedlings. When they weren’t in the nursery they were busy converting their recently acquired and worn out cow paddock into something capable of supporting an orchard. 1988 saw the first kiwifruit, tamarillos and avocados planted out. It would be another 3 years before a commercial sized crop was achieved.