The Reid family's involvement in the Tasmanian fruit industry began when a young Irishman, James Reid, decided to settle in the Huon Valley south of Hobart in 1856. At that time the Huon Valley was a relatively isolated new frontier for European settlers with the area being opened up by timber harvesters and only a few small farms had been established.
James' first task was to build a home in the form of a small hut made with large sheets of bark peeled from the giant eucalypt trees and, with little more than an axe, James cleared a small area of land out of the dense forest to establish his farm and apple orchard. In order to survive financially in the early years, James would walk several miles to find casual employment during the day and return home in the evening, often working late into the night to clear his land and plant his fruit trees by the light of a lantern.
Celebrating over 160 years
James Reid's pioneering spirit and his commitment to success set the Reid family on a course that has endured for 160 years. The family orchards have expanded with each generation and by the 1950's the Reid's had established one of Tasmania's first central apple packing houses to cater for the needs of many smaller growers in the district. By the 1980's over 10% of Australia's total apple exports were either grown or packed by the Reid family company.In the year 2000, now operating as Reid Fruits, the company turned its attention to producing cherries and purchased a 500 acre cropping and grazing property at Plenty in the Derwent Valley, 40 kilometres northwest of Hobart.
Since then over 100,000 cherry trees have been planted on the new properties. Over the decades literally thousands of people have worked the seasons along with six generations of the Reid family to grow, harvest, process and export the crops. In some cases, four generations of local families have worked in the business. Reid Fruits has always been a truly community based business generating much needed employment and bringing many millions of export dollars into the Tasmanian economy.
Today, Reid Fruits cherries are exported world wide and the Reid family members and staff continue to gain inspiration from the pioneering spirit of James Reid. Under a new company structure, Reid Fruits has extensive modern orchards and sophisticated fruit handling equipment.
Reid Fruits has become one of Australia's largest cherry producers and continues to play a major role in the development of new export markets on behalf of the Tasmanian fruit industry.