Farmhouse innovation makes berry good idea Accommodating idea means fruit pickers come to stay at Chevallum

• IF you build it, they will come.... and stay ... and pick strawberries. That’s Chevallum farmers Bernie and Revleigh Daniels’answer to the perpetual problem of getting enough strawberry pickers when they need them most. Now their field of dreams comes complete with backpacker-style accommodation. The Daniels have spent $200,000 building a barracks to house 25 of their 70-strong strawberry-picking workforce, in a bid to cut an annual estimated $50,000-$60,000 crop loss through insufficient staff numbers to pick it. “It’ll pay for itself, I think,’’ Bernie said. “It’s an investment, and it came fairly easy for me because I used to be in the building industry.’’Like other growers, Bernie relies heavily on backpackers to pick his strawberry crop, and while they are often taxied in by surrounding hostels, “when one goes, it seems to start a mass exodus,’’ he said. This way, Bernie believes he will hang on to backpackers for longer than before, at his 500,000-plus plant farm. “We’ll also be able to pick longer hours,’’ he said of the new barracks, which carries all the conveniences of today’s backpacker hostel, and which is built on a sacrificed strawberry patch. “We’re also planning a caretaker’s cottage nearby,’’ Bernie added. Member for Nicklin Peter Wellington was enthused over the project. “Bernie and Revleigh have made a huge investment in their operation and have come up with this barracks accommodation idea to ensure their huge crop is picked and to stabilize the employee numbers,’’ he said. “This is a wonderful investment in the strawberry industry on the Sunshine Coast.’’

BERRY NICE: These are just a few of the workers that come to visit and harvest our strawberries.

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