Thursday 12 April 2009
Hansard of the Legislative Council
SPECIAL INTEREST MATTERS
ROCKY GARDENS JAMS, JELLIES AND RELISHES
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Sometimes, Madam President, it is the simple, straightforward business concepts that are the most successful and sometimes they begin almost by accident. In 1991 Annette Dyke, the daughter of my constituents Patricia and Graham Dyke, was studying Indonesian at Exeter High School, the LOTE course.
A school excursion was planned to Indonesia but the Dyke family could not afford it until Pat Dyke hit upon a money-raising idea. Her parents had planted a large crop of youngberries on the advice of the Department of Primary Industries and Water but could not sell them. Pat made jam out of them and sold it at the Evandale market. It was so successful that Annette was able to go on the Indonesian trip.
From that small beginning, Madam President, grew a big range of jams, jellies, chutneys and relishes. The business at Rocky Gardens at Bridgenorth - built, by the way, in a rocky garden - expanded from their kitchen to a big purpose-built shed with the help of a grant from the Australian Government Food Processing in Regional Australia program.
As most would realise, Tasmania's jam and jelly market is a crowded one. What is Rocky Garden's secret of success? First, it is the raw materials. Pat Dyke's son, Tim, is a berry grower and there is also a network of other organic or spray-free growers. All ingredients are Tasmanian, except for mangoes and oranges, but with climate change we might even produce those in the future. Spray-free produce is insisted upon by Pat and Graham because of people's allergies. Pat believes it is the quality of the ingredients that gives her the edge and has enabled Rocky Gardens to win numerous gold, silver and bronze medals at shows. Probably the most successful product is raspberry jam. Pat uses all her own recipes and what she terms commonsense.
At the recent Wrest Point Royal Hobart Fine Food Awards held at in Hobart, Rocky Gardens raspberry jam won the champion Tasmanian preserve prize and the chief judge, Kate McGhie, said, 'It has an intense raspberry flavour, the full length of the palate, a lovely, lingering taste. This is in the hands of a very experienced jam maker'. High praise, indeed. Being a veteran jam maker, Pat Dyke is very good at selecting fruit at its optimal ripeness.
But it is not just the raw materials, Madam President, there is certainly a strict adherence to quality control, labelling and marketing. Rocky Gardens now produces a range of 20 varieties in four different sizes and plans to expand after recent show successes. It is a growing family business. Annette, whose school excursion to Indonesia started it all, now works in production. Her bother, Tim, has just planted an additional 300 raspberry canes. It is a long time since Hobart's IXL Jam Factory closed down, and that is a place where my mum and dad worked from time to time, but the jam-making tradition is alive and well in Tasmania.