Online market grows SE garlic sales

TECHNOLOGY has proven beneficial for a pair of local business owners who are breaking into the produce market.

Liz Crowley and Rob Wallis have an organic garlic farm just out of Naracoorte and have experienced booming online sales, selling to customers all over Australia.

Using the Australia Post initiative Farmhouse Direct they have been able to transport their products far and wide as the demand grows.

"We have a lot of new customers in New South Wales and Victoria," Ms Crowley said.

"Melbourne is probably the biggest, followed by Sydney and we have just sent off our first order to the Northern Territory.

"We quickly realised that most of the momentum would be through online."

Every now and again Australia Post offers free shipping which often results in noticeable spikes in sales.

"We have sold nearly 800kg (since harvest, although not all of that has been through online), 150kg of that through Farmhouse Direct in one weekend - that's a pretty significant amount for us," Mr Wallis said.

"Farmhouse Direct has been really good to us. Out of the 83 garlic products on there we've got four out of top five sellers."

For the past three years the duo, whose business is called Ananda Organic, have been trialling seven different varieties of garlic, of which they have selected the three best to sell - purple, gold and rose.

Each type is harvested annually from November to January.

Mr Wallis said the process was quite extensive.

"We planted 24,000 last year and this year we're pushing 40,000," he said.

"A lot of people make the mistake in thinking it is really easy to grow garlic.

"Ours are all planted by hand and so we charge a premium for it. We haven't been beaten on taste yet...it makes it all worthwhile."

Soon they are hoping to add more gourmet products to their repertoire.

"We are looking at more unusual and interesting things that might compliment the garlic," Mr Wallis said.

"Organic is the biggest growing sector of he farming industry and people in the city want farm produce."

Ananda Organic has already become a popular choice food for experts around the country.

Prominent chef Simon Bryant, who starred in the television show The Cook and the Chef alongside Maggie Beer, has said the purple variety was one of the best he had ever tried and the garlic has featured on Channel 7's Sunrise sustainable living experiment.

Limestone Coast chef Kirby Shearing has designed a meal around the premium variety and takes a kilo of it every week.

"They are the people we are trying to find to build long term relationships with," Mr Wallis said.

Farmhouse Direct is a virtual marketplace developed to bring farmers and producers together with their buyers, allowing customers to buy direct from the person who grows or makes the product.

Ms Crowley and Mr Wallis also regularly attend the Mount Gambier farmers market, stock their wares in selected local stores and deliver weekly to customers all along the Riddoch Hwy.

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