By Derek Schlennstedt
It’s a relaxing experience: picking your own fruit on a warm summer’s day; spending a day meandering through rows of fruit trees and plucking ripe plums, pears and peaches from the very branches they sit.
So this summer rather than strolling down busy and noisy supermarket aisles, wander down blossoming orchard rows full of fruit ripe for the picking.
The summer harvest season: it’s a time that many look forward to, when trees bloom into wonderful colour and the freshest fruit is eaten straight from the tree.
One orchardist, who’s familiar with the pleasures of picking and tasting fresh fruit, is Len Rayner, owner of Rayners Orchard.
“If you’ve ever eaten a tree-ripened peach, you’ll know,” he said.
“The juice runs down your chin; you have to bend over to eat it, it’s like a big ball of juice with a little bit of fibre and the flavour is just superb – everything about it is just superb.”
Selling and growing over 450 varieties of fruit year round, Rayners Orchard also makes delicious products with the diverse range of fruit and runs workshops on how to make your very own delicious jams and chutneys.
With over 300 varieties of stone fruit available over summer, it’s the perfect time to be a little adventurous when it comes to unusual fruit types.
“When I was younger, everybody in the city new someone in the country and they would regularly visit them … now everybody goes to the local supermarket, they don’t get the joy of picking fruit … It’s an incredibly satisfying experience,” he said.
“We have an enormous range of stone fruit … when I say enormous range, probably around 300 varieties.”
Some of those fruits include plumcots, pluots, donut peaches, necta plums, peachcots, clingstone peaches and even miniature pumpkins.
Though Rayners Orchard is more than just U-pick, and as Len puts it, it’s a ‘fruit adventure,’ and with tours, a cafe and bottling workshops it’s much more than just picking fruit.
“We’ve got a large range of exclusive range of jams and chutneys, even ice cream.”
“All our products have no artificial colours of flavour; it’s all completely natural,” he adds proud of the Rayners Orchard team and the reputation it has built over the years.
Summer is a great time to put that reputation to the test.
Rayners Orchard is located at 60 Schoolhouse Road in Woori Yallock and is open in summer from 8.30am until 5pm. For more information, phone 5964 7654 or visit www.raynersorchard.com.au.