New blueberry variety a ‘Delight’

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Costa operates a globally recognised Variety Improvement Program, developing new blueberry varieties which are licensed in regions including the Americas, Morocco, China, and South Africa.

Headquartered at Corindi on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia, the program uses Costa’s extensive network of farms in mid latitude, low latitude, and low chill to mid-chill locations to select, evaluate and develop new varieties suitable for a range of global growing conditions, meeting both consumer and customer requirements.

Take a look at our new Delight blueberry variety, which is now being grown commercially on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. The variety has risen to prominence as a standout for flavour and fruit quality, with early season tendencies. It is particularly suited to low latitude environments.

Our new Delight blueberry variety is now being grown commercially on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. It is well suited to low latitude environments, and is a standout for flavour and fruit quality.

Tumbarumba berries go organic

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The Costa Berry farms in the Tumbarumba region are the first farms across the Costa Group to convert to organically grown produce.

The farms, located at Rosewood and Taradale in the Tumbarumba region in the Snowy Mountains, are ideally suited to organic growing due to their high elevation and cool winter, which minimises pest pressure.

The farms, which are currently ‘organic-in conversion’, will be fully certified by 2023.  During the conversion process, the farm must adhere fully to the organic standard.

Nico Mulder, the Regional Manager for the Costa farms, welcomed the move to organic farming.

“Our farms are in an ideal location for organic farming as we have very low pest and disease pressure, reducing the need for pesticides.  We are very excited to be at the forefront of organic growing for Costa,” Mr Mulder said.

Organic in-conversion enables consumers to purchase a product which has been grown organically for a minimum of 12 months, as they await full certification.

The blueberries from this year’s harvest are being sold as organic-in-conversion through Driscoll’s, and are free from pesticides and any disallowed inputs or fertiliser, are additive free and non-GMO.

Costa Berries bus starts in Devonport

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Costa Berries Tasmania is trialling a four-week bus service to support local workers travelling to its farms in the Devonport area.

Cameron Folder, Costa Berries Regional Manager, said the business was partnering with local provider Merseylink to provide an additional local Devonport bus service.

“The service will commence on Monday 14 December and operate seven days a week except for Christmas Day,” Mr Folder said.

“Our recruitment team receives regular feedback that a lack of transport is a barrier for people attending work.

“Analysis of our local applications supports this and indicates a number of potential workers do not have access to transport.

“Costa has listened to those concerns and as a result we are partnering with Merseylink to subsidise a local Devonport bus service.

“The service will connect locals in Devonport to our East Devonport strawberry farm and Wesley Vale strawberry and raspberry farms providing a morning pick up and return travel.”

The cost is $2.50 each way with travellers asked to have small amounts of change to pay the driver.

“We hope this new bus service will help overcome a barrier to employment for local residents,” Mr Folder said.

“To date more than 200 Tasmanians have commenced work with Costa for the summer harvest.”

Costa Berries Tasmania is still actively recruiting and anyone who would like to join the team can apply at costagroup.com.au/pick-adventure or by calling into our East Devonport recruitment office.

Costa Berries/Merseylink bus timetable

0515 Opposite Devonport High, Best Street, Devonport

0520 Devonport Community House, Morris Avenue, Devonport

0525 Opposite Brown Bear, Berrigan Road, Miandetta

0535 Corner Torquay Road and Caroline Street, East Devonport

0540 Strawberry Farm, corner Upper Drew and Bovill Street, East Devonport

0550 Strawberry Farm, 330 Mill Road, Wesley Vale

0555 Raspberry Farm 339 Wrights Lane, Northdown.

Return services from the Northdown Raspberry Farm on the reverse route depart at 2pm and 3pm.

Berry harvest under way with Tassie workers

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The harvest of Costa’s Tasmanian berry crop has commenced with a newly recruited Tasmanian workforce.

“We are looking forward to the new season and to date we have employed 69 Tasmanians, with another 50 starting next week, from 405 local applications,” said Costa Tasmanian Regional Manager, Cameron Folder.

The recruiting of Tasmanian workers has been made possible by Costa’s “Pick Adventure” campaign featuring locals who have achieved successful careers in the horticultural industry, supported by the State Government’s “Tassie Harvest Jobs – Take Your Pick” program and the Federal Government’s “Harvest Trail”.

“Over the harvest season Costa aims to employ up to 900 Tasmanians in a range of positions. These jobs include supervisors, crop maintenance, picking, packing, pest management, truck drivers, forklift drivers, irrigation and general maintenance. People who have successfully applied to Costa will be contacted and offered a position,” said Mr Folder.

Costa already has in place a COVID safe workplan, which includes the temperature testing of all workers before they enter any Costa site.

“It is important that we do everything we can in our business to make sure Tasmania stays COVID free and the healthy and safety of our workforce is a priority,” said Mr Folder.

Tasmania is the only location where Costa currently grows the four main berry types – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, which makes Tasmania a key part of Costa’s ability to supply Australians with quality berries year-round. To achieve this, we estimate we will need approximately 2000 workers.

“The size of our crop and the duration of our season which can last up to six months means additional labour will be required. Costa is working closely with the State and Commonwealth Governments to supplement the Tasmanian workforce with backpackers who are already in Australia and seasonal workers, many of whom are also on the Australian mainland,” said Mr Folder.

The combination of local labour, backpackers and seasonal workers make a major contribution to the local economy leading to a significant economic injection into the local North and North West Tasmania goods and services sectors. Importantly the Seasonal Worker Program also contributes to Australia’s foreign aid effort.

“Costa also utilises local suppliers where possible for items including machinery, contractors PPE and fertiliser, further adding to the Tasmanian economy,” said Mr Folder.

Photo caption: Taking a look at the new strawberry crop are from left, Cameron Folder, Costa Berries Regional Manager Tasmania, Minister for Primary Industries and Water Guy Barnett and Member of Braddon Felix Ellis.