When Nic Giblett walks around Newton Orchards in summer, the sweet scent of her family harvest evokes strong emotions.
“It’s a nostalgic time of year for me when I can walk into the orchard and smell the first apples of the season being harvested,” she says.
“We have 350kg bins, and when they come off the tractors and get loaded onto the shed floor, it’s thick with that beautiful, natural perfume.”
The third-generation Manjimup grower is driven by those seasons, knowing intuitively when produce is best eaten.
Her passion informs the way she does business, pushing provenance and seasonality to everyone from the average consumer to Coles supermarkets.
“I grew up on our orchard, which was started by my maternal grandfather and uncle in 1929. They were just 15 and 16 when they came to WA as ten-pound Poms,” Nic explains.
“My dad, Harvey Giblett, later joined the business, taking over in 2000 and doubling its size. We now have four properties, we lease others, and we also pack and market for several Southern Forests growers. Harvey really put his foot on the pedal so we’re in a consolidation period now.”
And while Nic and her partner Paul were clear that they wanted to bring up their two children on the farm, things are a little different from when she was a nipper.
“My kids can’t roam through the pack house in bare feet eating apples the way I did – they’ve got to wear hi-vis vests and stick to all the safety rules,” she says.
“But I get to cook breakfast overlooking the orchard out the kitchen window. It keeps you more attuned to the basic simple joys in life: seasonality, eating properly, being appreciative of what’s around you.”
This way of living has also provided many other lessons much harder to come by in the city. “It’s made me learn about lots of other fresh produce and return to a way of living that used to be totally natural, only now it’s foreign to most people,” she says.
Nic is passionate, however, about bringing the best quality produce to consumers, no matter where they live.
“We’ve been with Coles for nearly 30 years, Woolworths for about eight and now ALDI Australia, too,” she says. “Contrary to what you sometimes read about the big supermarkets, they’re very supportive of our push of provenance, buying in season, and anytime we’ve wanted to innovate they’ve listened.”
Nic hopes that more Western Australians are also becoming aware of the importance of seasonality, and not putting so much emphasis on appearance.
“Hopefully consumers are becoming more attuned to things, realising it’s not sustainable to buy perfect-looking produce all the time,” she says.
“Voting with your dollar is the only way to change things. Everyone needs to be more educated with food choices, but I think buying local and in season is pretty simple.”