Ivan and Robyn Philpott run Whitebridge Orchards, based in Childers QLD. Originally tomato growers, the family switched to growing Hass avocados in the 1990s. They saw avocados as a healthier cropping option, as tomato growing requires a significant amount of chemicals.
Decades on, Whitebridge Orchards employs a team of pickers, packers and field hands, with work required 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. The couple’s exceptionally tasty Hass avos are a product of their 40 years of farming experience. They pride themselves on exceptionally nutritious trees, paired with tight quality control on their packing facility.
Q. First things first, favorite avocado variety and why?
Hass. This variety has a consistently nice flavour. For this reason, it’s the only variety we choose to grow at our farm.
Q. Can you give us a bit of background about Whitebridge Farms and how you came to grow Avocados?
We used to grow field tomatoes but we found it very intense work. The use of chemicals was an ongoing concern. In 1990 we made the decision to change to tree cropping, which we felt represented a better and healthier life style.
Q. What does a typical day on the farm look like for you both?
Work commences at 5:00am or 6:00am depending on the season and finishes at 5:30pm or 6:00pm. We work every day of the week. Daily tasks include irrigation monitoring and Fertigation. We use up to date digital technology to ensure minimum waste of resources. Although we are only small growers, we employ pickers, packers and field hands. A significant part of our day is taken up with supporting our workers.
Q. Farms are rewarding… and hard. What would you say the most rewarding aspect of farming avocados has been? And on the flip side, what’s been the biggest challenge?
Rewarding – Being able to grow good quality avocados.
Challenge – Maintaining quality in an ever changing environment.
Q. How come the avos from Whitebridge are so good?
Close attention to our tree nutrition and irrigation to ensure that it is precise and accurate together with 40 years of farming experience. Quality control in our packing facility is of the highest standard.
Q. Favorite avo recipe?
Smashed Avocado on toast. It’s popular for a reason! It is simple and delicious.
Q. Tell us a bit about Childers?
Childers is a small rural town about 4 hours drive from Brisbane. Its rich red soil and green hills make it a very pretty area. Recently there has been a move from traditional sugar cane growing to tree crop growing as the climate is very suitable for growing Avocados and Macadamias.