Ceravolo Orchards is set to become the first grower from mainland Australia to harvest cherries under a retractable roof.
Backed by a A$500,000 interest-free loan from the Coles Nurture Fund, the South Australian company will purchase and install a fully automated cover for a 2.8ha block within the Adelaide Hills.
Expected to be completed in August 2019, Tony Ceravolo of Ceravolo Orchards said the roof will transform traditional growing techniques, increase yields and extend the growing season.
“When it rains the crops are protected and when the weather is fine the roof opens up so the cherry trees are exposed to natural sunlight,” Ceravolo explained. “We are thrilled to be able to produce delicious, premium cherries knowing that we can protect them no matter what the conditions are.”
A fourth generation operation, Ceravolo Orchards grows cherries, apples, pears and strawberries across 250ha of farmland spread throughout the Adelaide Hills.
Coles chief operating officer Greg Davis said the retailer was proud to help bring innovation to life at Ceravolo Orchards, which has been supplying Coles supermarkets for close to 50 years.
“Since we established the Nurture Fund, we’ve been so impressed by the innovation shown by so many small businesses across the country,” Davis explained. “We’re delighted to support the Ceravolo family in their commitment to enhancing the quality of locally grown South Australian cherries.”
Since launching the A$50m Nurture Fund three years ago, Coles has offered more than A$14m in grants or interest-free loans to producers.