Funding. Forest family business Korpershoek Bros is diversifying its vegetable operational and gaining international interest.
The family run business recently received $63,000 in funding through the Circular Head Enterprise Grant Program, established by Circular Head Regional Economic Development Working Group from a $1.5 million stimulus package.
The grant will allow the business to expand its vegetable processing and packing operations and diversify produce grown, with the Korpershoeks matching the funding.
Purchasing the property in 1961, Peiter and Hendrika Korpershoek established a humble market garden throughout the farm’s 35 acres.
Harry, whose father worked at a local sawmill during the day before returning to tend to the garden of an evening, recalls the produce spreading across every inch of the property – even underneath the clothesline.
Working at Port Latta for over a decade, Harry returned to the family farm in 1988 to work alongside brothers John and Peter.
Since then, the property has expanded to more than 950 acres and also runs a 320 head dairy operation.
A true family affair, sons Scott and Mathew returned to their roots to work alongside Harry, after a stint living and working on the mainland.
As the farm expanded from a humble market garden to its current status as a broad market garden, the Korpershoeks now export most of their produce to markets in Melbourne and Sydney as well as around 4000 tonnes of potatoes to McCain Foods. Now, the Forest business is receiving international interest from Asia.
The operation has yielded between 1000 and 1500 tonnes of onions in recent years and the local business is now diversifying into other produce including shallots and red onions.
Beginning their own packaging line six years ago was a gamble, says Harry, but one that has paid off.
Harry and Scott now look to extend the current packing factory by approximately 350 square metres, relocate the potato processing line and reconfigure the existing onion line, and extend the packaging season to coincide with increased plantations and yields.
The funding upgrades will allow for a safer and more efficient workplace, says Scott, as well as increasing packaging capabilities and storage capacity.
The business currently employs six full time workers and up to a dozen casual employees during the harvest season.
“It’s a challenge, there’s no denying that,” says Harry of the expanding operation.”