June 15th – All you can pick

Fresh pickings

In an effort to get out of the house, this weekend we decided to something a little different – a visit to a mandarin orchard.

Watkins Orchard is located about 10 minutes from Wiseman’s Ferry in Sydney’s far north outskirts, a little over an hours drive from the CBD.

The Watkins have been producing crops in the area since the 1830’s, the present orchard was first used in 1901. Over the years the Watkins have adapted to change, at times producing oranges, strawberries or tomatoes.

The current Watkins generation, John, reshaped the farm around 15 years ago and planted mandarins. In a market dominated by growers in Queensland, John has not only created a local market, but by opening the gates to day-trippers he has created a carnival around the small, segmented citrus fruit. The result is very impressive.

It’s a simple process. Roll in, park your car, rent a bucket for a measly $10 and start twisting. It takes about an hour to meander through the fruit trees, extracting only what you need to fill the bucket. Then head back to the tent and grab a plastic bag, and you’re done!

And that’s not all the Watkins can offer before you leave. There is a pick-your-own mushroom shed ($10 a bag), homemade honey, and cumquats.

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