To put the kids through university David and Ros Sutton added growing raspberries to their apple farm. But as soon as the youngest one was done, David said he would never go back to the raspberries and the tough hard work they require.
David and Ros also knew that they would need to do something more than just grow their apples for the grocery market, as the profits on fresh fruit has dropped significantly for Australian farmers, the prices were just too low to sustain their farm.
Over the next few years and many many farmers markets and early mornings David and Ros developed their apples into products. Apple juice first, and apple pies, apple syrup, apple cider and even an apple festival.
Their juice is different to commercial juice, firstly in that they don't mix their apple varieties so you can buy the exact apple juice variety that you want. There is also nothing else added in. It's just pure juice.
They opened up a cafe in the farm shed to start selling their juice as the local demand started to grow, that was 13 years ago.
That first year, they sold 500 bottles of juice.
They also opened up a section of the orchard for people to pick their own apples, leaving only the trees they needed for their juice. City folk can drive out, buy a bag and pick their own apples.
Five years later and David and Ros were selling up to ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND bottles of juice, all from their farm shed cafe.
They still do all the picking and juicing and cooking and planting and weeding and marketing and serving themselves.
When customers drop in to pick up their juice they are also keen for a snack and Ros is now making 40 giant apple pies a week (that's 12,000 kgs of apples per year which David prepares for the pies) plus apple strudel, apple scones, apple pancakes and my favourite, apple cider ice cream.
David researches machinery for them to use on the farm to ensure they can keep progressing, he has vats for ciders and a syrup that if the world knew about it would be in every pantry of every house in the world. Delicious.
Ros now has some help in the kitchen to keep up with the customers rolling down the driveway, especially on weekends. The juice is now in such demand that they now purchase apples off other local farmers to keep up the supply for their juice (giving them a much better price than other traditional buyers).
I asked Ros what the best part of running an apple business was and she says it is meeting all the people that come to the farm and visit, from the international visitors to the locals who return often.
While I was chatting with David and Ros it is clear that their success has come from a few things. The first vitally important reason, was just pure hard work. The second was being knowledgable about the realities of starting a business, David said they factored in the first three years as being tough while they established the new business. I found this inspiring because it is in these tough years that so many people give up, possibly just before they are about to take off. Third and final was they continue to push their product, they could have just stayed with juice and only juice, but as the apple cider market is exploding, they are right there in it. David and Ros have the ability to be flexible and the courage to grow their business into new markets. It would be easy for them to just stick with the juice that they are so well known for.
As I chatted with David outside in the orchard, he just seemed to be planning something else, like a man who just has no time to keep still.
"We had 120 people at my first cider festival in May" he says.
"Next time, I hope to get 250"
And I am pretty sure he will.
Disclaimer: I was taken to the Sutton's apple farm as a part of a bigger trip with Queensland Tourism, but it was the personalities I met that I wanted to share the most. I was not paid to write about the Sutton's.
This is the first post in a new series I am writing called Surround Yourself Inspiring People.