By now we assume you’ve all heard about the newest craze in Echuca Moama – The Strawberry Pick! A PYO Strawberry farm on Lady Augusta Road Echuca that has all the kids (and adults) talking.
We had the privilege of hosting Wayne, Matt and Sarah for the Farm to Plate experience at Junction Moama. These guys had the most beautiful stall with the tastiest, reddest, freshest strawberries you ever did see.
We spoke to Matt and Wayne at The Strawberry Pick about their new venture…
The Strawberry Pick is the creation of Matthew Stewart and Wayne Mattschoss, workmates who became friends and now business partners. The vision for The Strawberry Pick is to offer a fantastic strawberry picking experience that creates enduring memories.
How long has The Strawberry Pick been operating?
We opened for the first time ever on Melbourne Cup Day this year. After two years of preparations and a flurry of activity in the days and weeks leading up to this day it was extremely satisfying to reach this milestone.
What was the inspiration?
In our careers and travels, we came across many Pick Your Own (PYO) farms that had sprouted from commercial farm interests. We thought, why not do it the other way around and start up a purpose built PYO farm with the goal of building the best experience for our customers we can envision.
What did you guys do prior to starting The Strawberry Pick?
We were both working (together on many occasions) as horticultural agronomists for the same company. Matt as a nationwide Nutritional Agronomist based in Victoria and Wayne a regional production agronomist in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia.
For a Pick Your Own farm experience they can’t be beat – Adults and Kids love them equally and they produce for almost ¾ of the year in this climate, so we can share the experience with customers for most of the year.
Technically, they are a challenging crop to grow and allow us to flex our agronomy muscles, which will hopefully get bigger now we’re in the box seats!
Is there a specific knack to growing the perfect strawberry?
If we ever see one, we’ll step on it! That way, we will always have something to strive for in our growing endeavors.
There’s a lot to consider when growing strawberries and we still have a lot to learn. We’re fortunate that we’ve been exposed to a lot of commercial growers and have been able to learn from the best.
The most important factor for us has been variety selection. The variety we currently grow comes from California and is called ‘Albion’. It doesn’t produce as much fruit as other varieties out there but it absolutely tops the charts when it comes to flavor – and for us that’s what it’s all about.
What’s your number one tip for the ultimate strawberry eating experience?
We’d recommend eating the strawberry at ambient temperature as that’s when the full flavor comes through.
When can people visit The Strawberry Pick?
7 days a week, between 9am-5pm. The season runs approximately from late October until late May. As we are at the mercy of the weather, it is wise to check our Facebook or webpage to ensure that we are open, especially during rain events.
Where can we purchase your strawberries?
Our recommendation would be to purchase them via the Pick Your Own Experience at The Strawberry Pick Farm, as it truly doesn’t get any fresher or better than that! Otherwise, you can purchase our pre-packed strawberries direct from the Farm or in town from our local retail partner, The Pear Tree. For those wanting them done a little bit fancier, Junction have been featuring us on their menu, which we recommend trying out also!
Where would you take a visitor for an essential country food experience?
Matt – Sounds cliché but a Sunday BBQ has been the quintessential inclusive country food experience in my life. My parents have always been very inclusive with their family BBQ’s and it’s a culture I hope to emulate throughout my dining life!
Wayne – I recently ate at Junction with my girlfriend who was over from Adelaide. I managed to convince her to make the move to Echuca. I’m pretty sure that the Bharat Spiced Cauliflower played its part in convincing her.
If you could visit any city for a day’s eating and drinking experience, where would it be and why?
Matt – I’d go to France and ask the locals where the best cheese was being served – I’m told there’s also some nice wine there to compliment.
Wayne -A few years ago I had the pleasure of travelling through Europe. During my stay in Rome I tasted the most amazing vegetarian pizza, it was simple and exceptionally flavoursome. I’ve been craving it ever since.
What other local artisans or producers do you admire? Why?
Matt – I met the extremely charismatic owners of Rich Glen Olive Oil at some recent events and was inspired by their story and by what they’ve created.
Wayne – Bruce and Tracey of Bandicoot Brewers. They’re a hard-working couple that take pride in what they produce.
If you had to choose your last meal, what would it be?
Matt – My wife’s home-made pizzas and loads of them.
Wayne –My Nanna’s school holiday special: Apple Waffles covered with jam and cream.