This week’s boxes mark the beginning of strawberry season – the longest season of the all the berries grown in Tasmania, with the first pickings generally in November and the last often almost stretching through into the beginning of winter. Most large berry growers in Tasmania grow for international berry giant Driscoll’s – this means that they can take advantage of successful berry varieties that have been the result of large scale investment in development by the company, but possibly even more importantly, it means that Driscoll’s manage distribution within Tasmania and interstate, which with such a perishable product makes it much easier to grow on scale.
When you buy a punnet of Driscoll’s berries in a local shop, the address listed on the punnet is actually the national headquarters, but the berries can be anywhere from Queensland to Tasmania, depending upon the time of the season. As a general rule, if the berries are in season in Tasmania they’ll probably be from one of the Tasmanian growers that supply them, as carefully managing freight and logistics keeps costs down, but there’s not really any definite way to be sure. Thankfully, we’re able to source our Driscoll’s strawberries directly from family-owned Hillwood Berries, north of Launceston – so while the punnet doesn’t have any distinguishing features, you can be positive that they’re definitely Tasmanian grown berries!
We also source berries over the season from southern Tasmanian growers – strawberries from DM Jennings in Cygnet, blueberries from Tru Blu Berries at Lymington, and raspberries from Lucaston Park Orchard – but these growers mostly use open-air growing techniques rather than growing in protected tunnels, and as a result supply is less consistent and the season tends to be shorter.