End of an era: Famous apple orchard is to become a flower farm

End of an era: Famous apple orchard is to become a flower farm


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SAD DAY: Peter Darley is leaving the Daydawn orchard at Nashdale that was established by his father, Noel, more than 70 years ago. Photo: ANDREW MURRAY 1122amapp1

SAD DAY: Peter Darley is leaving the Daydawn orchard at Nashdale that was established by his father, Noel, more than 70 years ago. Photo: ANDREW MURRAY 1122amapp1

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Daydawn closing up after 70 years as an orchard

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Peter Darley’s Daydawn Nashdale apple orchard has been sold and will be turned into a flower farm.

Daydawn is one of Orange’s most famous orchards, having been started by Mr Darley’s dad, Noel, about 70 years ago.

Mr Darley is retiring after the property was sold for $2 million last week.

The new buyer, Sydney flower grower and seller, Chris May of Mayfarm Flowers, will take out the 22,000 trees and replace them with greenhouses and fields of flowers with a “cellar door-like’’ public sales facility.

Mr Darley, 71, said the apple industry was suffering and it was time to get out.

“This property has been for sale for 15 years,” he said.

“I’m getting older, I’ve been through a lot of illness.

“I thought, well, it’s time to move on.

“I’m sad to go, it’s been my life.

“There comes a time when you want to smell the roses, not have them on top of me.”

Mr Darley and wife Julie will be moving into Orange.

“I’ve had 57 years in the industry, I think I’ve earned my retirement,” he said.

“My father established this orchard in 1942-43.

“There were 4100 trees on it, lots of blackberries, now there’s 22,000 trees.”

Mr Darley said the apple industry was a shadow of what it used to be.

He said there were once 300 orchards in the region and with Daydawn and another orchard to close, there would be just 26 orchards producing apples left in the Orange area.

“In the last 20 years our turnover has decreased by 50 per cent in cash money,” he said.

“There is very little profit left in it.

“Apples now are a generic product, there is so much else around.”

Mr Darley said there was a lack of transparency in the industry.

He said the GST should apply to the wholesale, and not just the retail, sale of apples.

He said the orchard was named after the Daydawn mine in Papua New Guinea where his mother’s nephew had worked.

A clearance sale of machinery, equipment, tools and orchard memorabilia will be held at the Cargo Road property from 10am on Friday.

The selling agent, David Dent of Benchmark Rural & Lifestyle in Orange, said it was the third apple orchard he had sold.

“It’s a tough market, cherries are a bit different,” he said.

The new owner, Chris May, was in Orange this week to inspect the property ahead of taking it over.

Mr May said he had sold his flower farm at Freemans Reach, north-west of Sydney and would establish a new base for growing bulbs, flowers, plants and shrubs at Nashdale.

He said the site would be run by Dutch bulb specialist Dennis Smit who would be moving from Tasmania.

Mr May will continue to live in Sydney as the company’s sales were mainly at Sydney markets.

He said he would engage a landscape architect to re-design the property for a mix of hothouses to grow bulbs and fields of flowers.

Mr May said it would take several years to establish the new operation.

“We’d love to do it sooner than later,” he said.

“We’ll have some greenhouses in the ground within 12 months.”

Mr May said they would be working to ensure the new look was aesthetically and environmentally pleasing.

“It won’t look as scarring on the landscape as hail netting and bird netting does,” he said.

Mr May said he and his family lived in Orange several years ago.

He said Orange’s climate gave it a “strategic advantage” as flowers could grow outside the peak periods supplied by Sydney flower farms and give his company the ability to supply markets at different times.

Mr May said there would be a public sales facility.

“[However] we are not going to be florists, our priority is to establish ourselves as a flower farm,” he said.

Central Western Daily.

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