Fruit full

Off the trees and into your (fruit) bowls

The hot (rainy) season is upon us and along with the scorching heat comes the magnificence of summer -- tropical fruit. If you don't want to leave the house to buy fruit, they are available straight from the farms to your doorstep.

FARM: Suan Hansar
⊕ Phichit Bang Bung, Phichit
OWNER:
Praphan Chamratsamee

When did the farm start?

I was a teacher in a government school and five years before retirement, I bought a farm to prepare for retirement. This was 20 years ago and the farm has been in operation for 15 years. I wanted to farm mayongchit aka Marian plum because as a kid, I was very poor and couldn't afford it. Having seen richer neighbours and friends who could afford the premium fruit, I was determined to grow the fruit one day.

Did you always sell directly to customers or has Covid changed the way you do business?

In the past decade, I have sold through middlemen who export the mayongchit. However, since last year due to Covid and less exports, the price decreased due to oversupply and lack of demand. So, we've had to sell directly through Facebook and Line, with the help of my son and daughter.

Is your produce seasonal?

We have 400 trees of mayongchit, which is available from March to May. We also grow the tubtim Siam variety of som oh (pomelo) from June to August and nam dok mai mangoes from April to November.

How do customers contact you?

Via Line @064-289-2497, call 064-289-2497 or via our Facebook page bit.ly/2SIBtol or email chdarangc16@gmail.com.


FARM: Hillcrest Farm
⊕ Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai
OWNERS:
Patama Jotikasthira and Ray Teske

When did the farm start?

Teske: We purchased the farm in 2014 and moved in the following year. We looked at several places before we found this place through a family friend. We fell in love at first sight; 15 rai of hillside (hence the name Hillcrest Farm) overlooking a valley that had rice paddies and terraces, and views of the mountains and foothills. It is in a small village along highway 1095 that goes up to Pai. We recently finished our mayongchit season, which is one of our favourite fruits. We have since planted lamyai, rambutan, pomegranate, limes, mangosteen and pomelo, mostly for our own consumption but are expanding next year.

Did you always sell directly to customers or has Covid changed the way you do business?

Teske: We used to sell via the wholesale market but last year we got the runaround so we decided to go direct late last year. Covid presented several sets of challenges. Patama's brother was a big help in getting us started on BentoWeb and Facebook. We started selling online in February, as well as supplying some of the roadside vendors near us. We also had a couple of cafes asking for fruit to turn into ice creams and for their kombucha.

Is your produce seasonal?

Teske: Our main product is organic mayongchit and we have about 500 trees. We sell the fresh fruit online and deliver across the country. We normally start harvesting in late April until May. This year Mother Nature threw us a curve and we had fruit from February. We also process the fruit into compotes, cordials and dry it for sale online. We also have butterfly pea and kaffir lime cordials that are available all year round. We are planting bananas, Seville oranges and are developing our Kimju guava, which will be ready for sale next year.

How do customers contact you?

Via Facebook: facebook.com/hillcrest.thai, our store on BentoWeb at hillcrest-farm.bentoweb.com/th, our Line account is @hillcrestfarm, or call 062-298-8548. You can follow us on Twitter @hillcrestfarmTH and Instagram @hillcrestfarmthailand.


FARM: Mahalap Farm
⊕ Pak Chong, Nakhon Ratchasima
OWNER:
Jaran Chiaravanont GENERAL
MANAGER:
Benjamin "Ben" Chiaravanont

When did the farm start?

Ben: The farm started in 2007, 14 years ago, when my grandfather Khun Jaran moved from Trat to Khao Yai, Nakhon Ratchasima for its cool climate and clean air. He did not intend to start a farm business, planting fruit trees and vegetables around his house only for his family. The farm slowly expanded as extended family members and friends started asking for produce.

The main crop is durian and this is because my grandpa stumbled upon a durian orchard in Khao Yai and was surprised because durian is usually cultivated in the East and South, for it requires high humidity and rainfall. On the day of his visit, there was a ripe durian and the owner offered my grandpa a taste. My grandpa said it was the best-tasting durian he had ever had and started planting durian trees in Khao Yai.

Did you always sell directly to customers or has Covid changed the way you do business?

Ben: Covid has drastically affected our vegetable business with decreased B2B orders from local and Bangkok restaurants. We had to shift our entire vegetable business to focus on B2C online orders via Line. The Khao Yai fruit season started this month and demand and wholesale prices have decreased. For eg, mangoes are B9 a kg and pumpkin B3 per kg. Luckily, the prices for durian, our main cash cow, have remained reasonable. The major threat for Thai durian farmers looms in the Chinese corporations owning the entire supply chain -- now, more than 95% of the 700 durian warehouses in Thailand that act as purchasing points, called lóng in Thai, are owned by Chinese companies.

In previous years, Mahalap has been a production-led business, waiting for middlemen to come buy produce at our farms. This year we started online/social media marketing and branding.

Is your produce seasonal?

We grow seasonal fruits like seven varieties of durian: Monthong, Puangmanee, Chanee, Kan Yao, Long Lub Lae, Yum Ma Wad and Kob Mae Tao. We have nine varieties of mangoes: Nam Dok Mai, Mahachanok, R2E2, Fah Lun, Ngan Mueng Ya, Dum, and more. We also grow rambutan, longan, wollongong, Hass avocados and pomelo. Other produce that is available year-round are salad greens, Thai vegetables, limes, Japanese melons and pasture-raised eggs. For a full produce list: bit.ly/3wSa6XH.

We also sell local and foraged plants like wild olives, kayang or rice paddy herb, tiger's ear, that are not in our catalogue to our restaurant friends/partners upon request.

How do customers contact you?

Via Line @mahalap or lin.ee/jd2EZQ8; fb.com/mahalapkhaoyai; IG: @mahalapfarm; TikTok: @mahalapfarm; or Youtube: Mahalap Khaoyai.


FARM: Green Me Organic
⊕ Nakhon Ratchasima
OWNERS:
Ubolrath Aphaphanlert and Michael Grant

When did the farm start?

The first plot of land was acquired in 2010. However, for organic certification, we had to leave the land unused for two years. Though we did try a 1,000+ banana tree plantation, which was disastrous. In 2018, we purchased a neighbouring dairy farm.

Did you always sell directly to customers or has Covid changed the way you do business?

We always mainly sold directly to the end-­user from the beginning but do also supply a few health shops. Covid has affected all areas of business for us so much that we now only open our café at the weekends. Farm stays have also dried up but that is in line with most hospitality businesses.

Is your produce seasonal?

Our product portfolio is seasonal but because of the Thai weather, we are able to get a number of crops within the seasons. We also process vegetables, fruit and herbs into sustainable products, such as preserves, jams, juices, salad sauces, dried and fermented products. Many items are available year-round, too. Our popular produce is Solarino tomato, spaghetti squash, organic carrot, Rose jam and homemade kimchi.

How do customers contact you?

Via Line: @greenmeorganic.


FARM: Organic Garden
⊕ Phetchabun
OWNER:
Patimaporn "Howwie" Ruangcharoen

When did the farm start?

The farm belongs to my family but we first started selling online since April 2020. Before that, most of the produce was sold at the local market. I lost my job as a chef and decided to go home to quarantine and manage the farm. I start selling online by posting in various groups and do delivery to the customer's house by post.

Did you always sell directly to customers or has Covid changed the way you do business?

Actually, Covid has increased my sales compared with normal times. I only harvest the fruit when the customer orders, to reduce waste and ensure quality, and use eco-friendly packaging, etc. The surplus fruit I take to the market where other organic farmers join, too. We also deliver a farmer's box of organic, seasonal vegetables and fruits that we grow, which can also be ordered.

Is your produce seasonal?

My produce list updates weekly as organic fruits and vegetables are hard to grow in this climate. I have red dragon fruit, orange melons, mulberry, nam dok mai mangoes, seedless watermelon, Hawaii lemons, mixed salad leaves, red spinach, cherry tomatoes, purple aubergine, Italian kale and mulberry jam.

How do customers contact you?

Via IG: Organicgarden_h2o or Line: @howwie.h2o.


FARM: SSK Suan Srakaew (SSK Fruit)
⊕ Sa Kaeo
OWNERS:
Orapin and Chokying Pitaksakorn, and Prasert and Pajongjit Pitaksakorn

When did the farm start?

Our farm/orchard started in 1989 by our parents' initiation and our grandparents' Thai heritage farming knowledge and support (aka choosing Thai heritage fruit varieties and post harvest knowledge). Started with Thai heritage mango varieties expanding to Hawaiian papayas. As our business grew, our operations did as well and we expanded our produce line to contract farming with farmers that we trust in our network.

Did you always sell directly to customers or has Covid changed the way you do business?

Our main business has mainly been growing produce for export, five-star hotels in Bangkok, airline catering and premium supermarkets. We do sell directly to customers but only a limited amount each harvest, and with little to no marketing. After the pandemic hit, we adapted our business model. We've also had to collaborate with local talent to manage fruits that we could not export.

Is your produce seasonal?

As of now, all of our produce is seasonal. We also process our produce and those products are available all-year round, like mango puree, naturally dehydrated mango and traditional Thai mango paste. Current seasonal fruits on offer are ruby mango, nam dok mai mango, Hawaiian papaya, red lady papaya, ruby dragon fruit (red flesh), organic mangosteen, durian, rambutan, and organic longan.

How do customers contact you?

Our preferred contact method is via Line: @sskfruit, Facebook: fb.com/SSKFRUIT or email. Call 083-423-6535, email sskfruit@gmail.com, chanica.sskfruit@gmail.com, visit sskfruit.com.


Note: Next week, we shall be featuring the king of fruit, so stay fruity!

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