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Meet the Farmer: Ridley Bell, Mountain Blue Farms

When Lindendale grower Ridley Bell arrived at the Footscray market with a sample of blueberries in the early 1970s, buyers had never even seen the fruit before locally.

Now the forefather of blueberries in Australia is again breaking new ground with a new blueberry variety sold exclusively at Coles across Victoria, Tasmania, NSW and Queensland.

The new jumbo blueberry variety called Eureka is the result of more than thirty years of extensive breeding and decades of experience in the industry. Eureka blueberries are large, sweet and have a texture similar to a crispy apple.

Ridley Bell, blueberry industry pioneer with daughter Natalie

Today Ridley and his wife Mieke own two farms - at Lindendale and Tabulam in New South Wales - with the operation shared between Ridley and his four children.

More than forty years after he pioneered the development in Australia, Ridley remains committed to the development of the blueberry industry, allocating Mountain Blue Farms’ resources to the research and development of breeding and technology.

Mountain Blue Farms produces 800,000 kilograms of blueberries for the domestic market each year and is also a thriving wholesale nursery business, now producing about half a million blueberry plants annually.

Mountain Blue Farms is passionate about quality – all picking and harvesting is done by hand and the farm’s packing shed is export and domestic quality approved to ensure customers receive the best possible blueberries.

Almost all Mountain Blue Farms’ full time team members are from Lindendale and Tabulam surrounding areas and the number of employees continues to grow. Last year, the business doubled its full time staff base to 75 employees and went from employing around 60 casual pickers to employing 600 casual pickers for the 2015 season.

Now you've met Ridley, learn how to turn his delicious blueberries into a homemade blueberry & banana bread! Click above for the recipe.

This article has been provided by Coles, a proud partner of AustralianFarmers.

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