Perched in the lush Adelaide Hills is a family farm that have been making use of the rich soils and gentle rains for almost 60 years, becoming one of the nations major Brussel Sprout Producers.
This is AE Cranwell & Sons. The Fair Farms team were recently given a tour of their site by the uncle and niece combination of John and Erin, the second and third generations of a thriving Cranwell family business, themselves Fair Farms members since 2019.
“We are based across two farms to the south of Adelaide,” said Erin, who oversees operations in the farms packing facilities.
“Here on our property in the Hay Valley is our packing shed, and more recently we’ve started to grow in the Fleurieu Peninsula. “There are times when it’s just too wet to get anything into the ground here in the Adelaide Hills, so we started operations from our second property about 30 years ago, just to extend our season a little further, and it’s become extremely important to us.
“Across the two we are typically rotating Carrots and Barley through as cover crops, but there’s no doubt that above all else, we are Brussel Sprout specialists.”
AE Cranwell & Sons produce huge numbers of Brussel Sprouts for a variety of markets both domestic and abroad. With a national supply to major supermarket chains, markets in every state and a portion heading to the export market too, labour is an important cog in their operation.
“We have around nine full-time workers across the course of the year, but into the peak season you can see the workforce swell to up to 35 workers between farm scheme programs and casual hires,” Erin said.
“We came into the Fair Farms because we wanted to be able to show we were ethically compliant, and to be a part of a National Standard, where everyone is operating fairly, and on the same page.
“It’s also given us the opportunity to have a way to have our voice heard, to have our say in decisions that may come towards us.”
John says the certification outcomes given by Fair Farms are just as important as the lessons and training provided. “There’s no question we are ethical in how we operate, but we need to be able to prove to people, to our buyers, to our customers,” John said.
“Anyone who knows us personally, or who works with us knows how we operate.
“They know we are ethical, but having a means to prove that, to have it certified on our product to show our customers and to our buyers what we are, it’s important for us.”