Strawberry fields forever at farm with ‘own climate’

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Strawberry Springs won a biosecurity award just two weeks ago, and is now up for sale.

An award-winning strawberry farm is ripe for the picking in Millgrove.

Fresh from winning the 2019 Australian Farm Biosecurity Producer of the Year, Strawberry Springs is listed with a price guide of $3 million to $3.3 million.

An excerpt from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources award booklet reads: “(the vendor) places a high value on the economic, environmental and social returns from adopting a preventive approach, and maintains an exceptional standard for the strawberry industry.”

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The picturesque fields of the Millgrove farm.

The arable land is well suited to a range of crops.

Principal of his eponymous agency Val Nichols said the 28ha property was perfectly suited to growing a wide variety of produce, with computer-operated underground irrigation and climate controlled processing and packing areas among the features.

“Not everyone may want to grow strawberries, but it’s a situation of where it’s an amphitheatre almost — it’s got its own climate — it would be suitable to a whole range of crops,” Mr Nichols said.

“All the sheds and everything is purpose built for agriculture.”

The picturesque property sits on the path to Warburton, with the Yarra River bringing fresh water from the Upper Yarra Reservoir and filling local streams.

“Warburton is cooler than Coldstream and that works in his favour for growing strawberries, for growing anything,” Mr Nichols said.

““It’s all very good arable, productive country.”

A dam on the property is fed fresh water by a local spring.

The insulated building is approximately 1000sq m.

A climate controlled processing and packing area.

Mr Nichols said the farm had significant upside to take advantage of tourism due to its pristine location.

“He hasn’t exploited the tourism factor, you’ve got all that traffic that goes up to Warburton — there are a lot of things that you could do to take it to the next step.”

“It’s hard to take a bad photograph — everywhere you look you’ve got hills, the Yarra River, the dam he’s got has a spring that runs into it so it’s clean water all the time.”

“Everyone gets blown away, even the photographer — you’ve got to drag them away.”

The vendor decided to go out on a high, retiring with his wife and passing the business on, Mr Nichols said.

“He was planning to put it on the market before he knew he was eligible for the award,” he said.

“His wife would like to see more of his grandkids.

“They’ve built that farm up — it’s a totally different type of concept of strawberry farming. He’s set it up almost like a production line.”

A small cafe provides an additional income to the farm.

Never pay for your fresh fruit again.

The fruits of the farm’s labour.

Mr Nichols said the farm was on track for one of the most “financially rewarding seasons that he’s had”, citing the cooler air and clean water.

“The way he set it up, someone could come in and he would educate them to what he does, but even with very little training — if they’ve got some knowledge of agriculture they could slip in very well.”

The farm was on the market last year, but the vendor pulled it off in the wake of the strawberry needle sabotage scandal, where pins were found in the sweet fruit, waiting for the scare to settle down before returning the property to the market.

Mr Nichols said there had been interest from locals as well as international investors.

“The sheer versatility of the place — someone can walk onto it and they’ve got an income producing property straight away,” he said.

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