M & E Biel

Ed & Marilyn Biel are both Board members of United Growers Pty Ltd. Ed is current Chairman and Marilyn is Finance Director.

Marilyn helped establish the company on behalf of the members and has held the position of Market Manager/Organizer since its incorporation.  She has been responsible for the day to day management of the market to ensure its smooth operation.   She is an accountant in Public Practice specialising in Business Services which has assisted in the Markets success.

Ed has a background in the NSW Police Force, Security, then Logistics Management and since 1985 his passion has been farming in NSW.   He has been very active over the years in the NSW Farmers Association as well as in the establishment of our Market.  Ed has represented farmers on a number of State, Federal and Local Government committees in an effort to protect the future of farming in the Sydney Basin and NSW as a whole.

 

The Farm

Wanaka Orchard is a family run mixed stone fruit, nashi, cut flower and citrus farm located at Oakdale on the southern edge of the Sydney Basin.

Ed and Marilyn developed the orchard from scratch after purchasing the land in 1987. Initially they grew Nashi and Plums, but have since expanded into Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, the newer ‘pluots’ and 'plumcots', with some citrus, cut flowers & foliage. The farm covers 40 acres with about 20 acres of orchard.

 

Dried Fruit

With their neighbour Jim Ironside, they have of developed a low temperature dehumidifying drying system using refrigeration as a means of drying their excess fruit and Jim's pecan crop.

The advantage of this type of drying is that water is removed quickly at low temperature, thus preserving vitamins and flavour that can be destroyed at high temperature. No chemicals or preservatives are used in the process.

 

Irrigation

Water, for irrigation is obtained from two underground bores and five surface dams.

The irrigation system is an efficient drip type. Water is only applied when required, using instruments to measure actual soil moisture so that the precious water is not applied when it is not needed.  It is fully automated and can apply nutrients directly to the root zone of the trees using ‘fertigation’ equipment.

 

Control of Pests

Integrated pest management (IPM) is practiced to minimize the use of pesticides.

Regular monitoring for pests such as Queensland Fruit Fly, Light Brown Apple moth etc, are carried out using scouting methods and attractant traps. Spraying only occurs when pests reach certain threshold levels, not by the calendar as used to occur.

Beneficial and predatory insects have been released into the orchard and are encouraged to control some pests naturally without the need for sprays.

 

Orchard Nutrition

Organic fertilizers are mainly used on the plantings. Chicken manure, blood and bone and worm teas provide the main nutrients required. Some trace elements are supplied via foliar sprays to correct any deficiencies.  Fertigation is also used to balance nutrition requirements after soil analysis is carried out to determine nutrient levels.  Ed makes his own worm teas using waste fruit from the orchard which he composts in bathtubs. He collects the tea, stores it in 20litre drums and sprays it under his trees in early spring.  He is looking at inoculating this tea with more beneficial organisms such as fungi to benefit the soil biology.

 

Netting

All of the the orchard is now netted against flying fox and bird attack and also provides protection against hail. The last netting was completed in 2011 with the assistance of a partial grant from the NSW Government.  The first nets were completed in 2000 and although the structure is still sound, the netting is due for replacement.

The orchard was severely impacted upon in the 2001 Christmas Bushfires and Ed and Marilyn were lucky not to have lost everything. As it was, the farm suffered substantial damage which was not covered by insurance.

Incidentally, flying fox damage was becoming much more severe each year as the animals were displaced from their natural food sources by housing and other development on the east coast of Australia. Some fruit varieties have been wiped out in recent years and damage levels of 30-50% were becoming more common. This problem is now a thing of the past on this orchard, due to the netting

Ed and Marilyn would like to thank all their customers for their support in the past and hope to be able to supply greater variety to the Warwick Farm Markets in the future.

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    Produce

    • Peaches - White
    • Peaches - Yellow
    • Plums - Blood
    • Plums - Yellow
    • Nectarines - White
    • Nectarines - Yellow
    • Mulberries
    • Pluots
    • Plumcots
    • Lemons
    • Grapefruit
    • Limes
    • Cut Flowers
    • Mandarines
    • Navel Oranges
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