Freshcare Community Feature: Groves Grown Tropical

Published on November 10, 2021

Groves Grown Tropical fruit is a family-run farm in the hinterlands of the Capricorn Coast in Queensland. The Groves family began farming pineapples on the land in 1958, switching to tree crops in 1981. The farm’s produce roster includes lychees, mangoes, carambola, avocado, loquats, dragon fruit, longans, wax jambu, and bayberries. Sandi and Ian Groves are committed to sustainable and environmentally friendly farming and have been involved in Freshcare since 2000.

We spoke with Sandra Groves about her experience as a certified grower and her hopes for the future of Australian farming.

How we got started…

I’ve been involved in growing, picking, packing, and marketing tropical fruits for well over thirty years. Groves Grown started out as a very small family farm. We slowly built our business to the stage that it can now support our son as well.

When I met Ian, he was transitioning from growing pineapples to growing fruit trees. One of the crops he’d planted was lychees. Ian at this stage had never eaten fresh lychee, whereas I had grown up with them. As tree crops take quite a long time to get established and become profitable, I continued working part-time as a teacher while we developed the farm.

Why we chose Freshcare certification

Food safety is a number one priority for us as we, our families, and our friends eat a lot of our own fruit and we would hate to make anyone sick. Freshcare was developed in consultation with farmers and was presented to farmers for feedback and developed to ensure safe food for all, while still being practical and achievable for small family farms. We were involved with Freshcare from the very beginning back in 2000 and have gone through the changes and developments of Freshcare. More recently the organisation has been benchmarked in with the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). While the requirements are difficult for small family farms to meet, I believe Freshcare is still trying to ensure it keeps requirements as practical as possible. Food safety is incredibly important to us, to ensure GSFI is an international program which means our fruit meets food safety standards all over the world.

Hopes for the future of the agriculture industry

My hope for the future is that there is still a place for small family farms like ours. With an increasing disconnect between many urban dwellers and their rural cousins, I would like to let them know small family farms are struggling. It is important we survive, not just because we provide great quality safe produce for them, but we also care about the environment we live in and we’re an integral part of our regional communities.