Stone fruit in season
Alex and Margaret Gordon began at the OFM in the very early days. Initially they came for about 6 months per year but in recent times they bring their stone fruit from January to about the end of March.
Alex is a well-respected orchardist in the region, where he has been growing fruit for close to 40 years. His grandparents grew apricots at Coal Creek.Alex grew up in the area going to the hydro school in Roxburgh and then to Roxburgh High. He did a joiners apprenticeship in the 1960s as the area was going through a massive expansion. At the time there were 6 builders based in Roxburgh. He loved the outdoors and, after a stint driving trucks and getting married to Margaret (who was born in Lawrence and raised in the Teviot Valley) they bought their first block of land in 1980.
This was a mixed orchard called Elderslea in Dumbarton, just south of Roxburgh. Alex worked hard to replant pip and stone fruit and after three years of this they bought the neighbour’s property which added another 40 acres. This property also required development to improve the drainage.
Alex kept 10-12% of his land under development at all times. He planted corn in the developing land which helped to protect the young fruit trees and provided them with some much needed cash flow. They grew 40,000 corn cobs a year! They had a successful roadside stall where they sold their produce, as well as on the domestic market.
They employed up to 4 permanent staff to help and had up to 40 seasonal staff at peak times of thinning, picking and packing. Alex and Margaret took on cadets to help as well. This was a win-win situation as the cadets got to do everything on the property and learnt the how as well as the why.
Alex grew apples for export at this time but this became barely economic and they were exposed to the vagaries of the weather. If a hail storm came through and damaged the fruit they were no longer acceptable for the export market.
They have since downsized and now have 4 acres of mostly apricots in Roxburgh East. Alex loves to be able to leave the fruit to sun ripen as the sugar levels rise dramatically the last few days the fruit is on the trees.
He is well known at the OFM for having delicious, ripe fruit.
Alex and Margaret, joined often by Alex’s older sister, Helen are very popular at the OFM. The last three years have been particularly good for them at the OFM and sometimes they can’t pack the fruit fast enough to keep up with customer demand. The fruit is all priced and they happily sort fruit for preserving or for eating that day.