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Asparagus Country - The Westernport District

It is quite likely that the earliest cultivation of asparagus in Australia occurred within the first few decades of colonisation. As a perishable product with a limited shelf life, fresh asparagus production would have been limited by the food preserving techniques available.

Today Australia's premier fresh asparagus production district is located in the State of Victoria, in an area to the north of Westernport Bay, known as Dalmore. The district was originally the watershed to the surrounding hinterland and an extension of the tidal estuary of the bay. The accumulated heavy silt deposits of the estuary have produced deep soils, with a high ability to absorb and retain water. Drainage works in the 1920s dredged a series of channels to carry runoff to the bay and develop the land for primary production. The channels reflect the character of an estuary with daily tidal ebb and flow. Much of the production area is within a few feet of the high tide mark. The word Dalmore comes from Gaelic or German 'Dal' meaning low land between hills and 'more' meaning big. (Mickle et al, 1975)

Potatoes and dairy produce were the principal products of the period. Intensive horticulture was well established by the 1940s and the area delivered fresh milk to Melbourne by rail through the 40s & 50s. White asparagus production was well established by this time supplying product to canneries. However by the mid sixties production volumes were declining.

The 1960s saw the Melbourne fruit and vegetable market developed as a market for fresh green asparagus. By the early 70s white asparagus production had almost ceased and asparagus was canned green. Asparagus production increased steadily in this period with growth in both fresh sales and canned product.

In the early 1980s new export markets emerged resulting in further production expansion. Export market development transformed the production of fresh asparagus from a cottage industry supplying local markets, to a highly organised, labour intensive business producing quality products for national and international distribution systems. Back to top

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