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How Aussies Live: Life on a fruit farm

Across the country, 'home' means and looks different to different families and households. In this series, we take a look at the diverse ways in which Aussies are living, and find out what works for them, and what makes home special. Here, we talk to Mary who lives in Shepparton, Victoria, with her husband David on the Selman Bros. orchard. We chat about working and living on a farm and what it means to them.

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The front of Mary and David's house

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One of the Selman Bros. trucks for transporting produce

How did the decision to live here come about?

When I married David, he had the farm and he didn't want to travel for work. He always wanted to build on the farm and so we did, and it just felt right. It was also great for the kids growing up; they loved getting out there, same with the grandkids, they love coming to visit. There are a few quad bikes in the shed that the kids used to drive around on, and they learnt how to drive the semis growing up. They also helped out with the picking when it got busy, earning pocket money for the summer holidays, like all the cousins who've grown up around the farm have done.

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A row of apple trees ready for picking

Why does living next to the orchard work for you?

It just makes sense for us, the business is here and we never really wanted to live in town. It's much nicer out here, it's close to work and very peaceful.

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The dining area complete with a beautiful display cabinet

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The living room with an array of family photos

What are some of your daily rituals?

I used to pack the fruit to go on the trucks, but when I started to have problems with my back, I stopped that and now I do office work. Our busy season is from November to March/April, so David is busy at the moment loading up all the trucks. He does everything really, but he mostly works on the transport side of the business, talking to other orchards to organise picking up other fruit to fill the trucks before they go to Melbourne or Sydney. 

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Beautiful plums also grown at the orchard

What's it like being able to walk a few meters to work?

I actually don't even set foot outside as we have an office set up in the house. I was working in the shed originally, but the computer  stopped working and when we got a new one, I was looking after the grandkids at the time, so moving the office to the house made more sense. For David, it's great; the men are always out early in the shed so living so close is definitely a benefit. They work pretty long hours; he's always over at the shed by 7am and, at the moment, has been finishing past 6 or 7pm.

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The open plan kitchen

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The bathroom with a classic clawfoot bathtub

Tell us about life on the farm

I love living on the farm, I've always lived on farms so I guess I don't know any different. I grew up on a veggie farm and then moved to the orchard after David and I got married, so it feels normal. It's great having lots of space, it's nice and quiet, and we don't have any neighbours. The farm itself is always busy. During picking season, we have teams of pickers come in, they wear aprons with a big pocket on the front that they load up with fruit and drop in the bins that we put on the back of the tractors. The bins then go into the shed where the fruit gets graded and checked for dents and marks. The fruit that's no good, that can't be sold at market, we usually sell to SPC where it gets canned for preserves or made into juices. The good fruit goes on the conveyor belt and the packers put them all in boxes, which are loaded onto pallets so they can be lifted into the trucks. When it's not the busy season, the boys are out there pruning, thinning and clearing around the bottom of the trees, tending to them and making sure they're healthy for bearing fruit.

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A row of tractors

How would you describe the style of your home?

Country, I'd say. It's very comfortable and light.

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Delicious pink ladies up close

What do you love most about your home?

I think it has a lot of character, which I love. ​When the fire is going, it's nice and cosy, and the kitchen is great for baking, and has a nice, ambient feeling.

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