When Jon joined the business he became the sixth generation of the family to farm the Mansfield land on which the Murphy Fresh greenhouses stand.
Previous generations had been cattle and sheep farmers, with the land being used for grass seed on occasion, but in 1998 when the property passed to Jill, she and Russell broke with tradition and set-up their first glasshouse.
At the time hydroponic farming was relatively new but Jill and Russell recognised the potential capital returns on lower input costs, increased revenue through high yields and the environmental benefits of this sustainable farming method.
Good food and produce has always been close to the heart of the Murphy family, and they take pride in now producing the best tasting tomatoes in Australia. Throughout his working life, Russell Murphy has been involved in all aspects of fruit and vegetable distribution, starting-out in super markets, and going on to wholesale fruit and vegetable. During his time in the Melbourne markets he worked with and developed a friendship with the Millis family who went on to develop the business flavorite which now markets and distributes Murphy Fresh truss tomatoes.
GROWING IN MURPHY FRESH GREENHOUSES
With a well-earned reputation for environmentally sustainable best-practice, Murphy Fresh have continued to initiate groundbreaking growing methods over their 14 years of operation and have expanded to a current growing area of around 2.6 hectares, or 26,000 square metres.
In their state-of the- art-facility they grow 63,000 tomatoes from plants which grow for up to 12 months. It will take about 10 weeks for each plant to begin to produce trusses and these will be picked twice weekly for the remaining 40 or so weeks of the year. By the end of the season each plant is between 12 to 14 metres long and will have yielded some 22 to 26 kg of truss tomatoes.
MURPHY FRESH AND FLAVORITE
All Murphy Fresh premium vine-ripened tomatoes are sold through Flavorite marketing (Flavorite), who then distribute through major supermarkets across Australia. Also a family run business, Flavorite has its own growing premises in addition to it's marketing arm. (Link to flavorite website)
Murphy Fresh is set to double their growing area over the next year. In what will not only be a major development for the family but also for the township of Mansfield, the expanded facility will produce more than 3 million kilograms of truss tomatoes each year and employ up to 50 staff. The new facilities are to be developed using the latest cutting-edge technologies available to the industry that will facilitate the production of the best quality produce, at the lowest environmental impact.
Following are some of the important facts related to growing tomatoes in a hydrophonic system:
• Closed systems can deliver near zero waste water all year round.
• Smaller footprints, therefore less impact on the natural environment.
• Marginal land is not an issue.
• Grow foreign plants in local climates.
• Controlled environment allows better use of IPM and beneficial insects with much reduced sprays.
• Higher Brix (sugar) levels deliver sweeter flavoursome fruit and longer shelf life.
• Year-round supply of consistent quality and quantity to meet consumers needs.
• Environmentally sound and responsible growing system.
• No weeds, no weeding, no herbicides!
• Higher production per hectare (1ha glasshouse produces the same as 9.4ha field).
• 5 times less water use
• Higher returns for farmers’ efforts
There are numerous health benefits in tomatoes, they are packed full of goodness and should be included in everyones daily food intake. For best taste, tomatoes, should be stored at room temperature so they continue to ripen.
Tomatoes are packed full of lycopene; lycopene is a vital anti-oxidant that helps in the fight against cancerous cell formation as well as other kinds of health complications and diseases.