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The Guadagnino family story intertwines with the history of Manjimup, reflecting the hard work and determination of Alfonso Guadagnino. Alf’s Continental Store and the family farm have gone through several evolutions over the years, with their diverse range of produce, including apples, pears, cherries, nuts, avocados, stone fruits, and various others, always remaining an integral part.

Alfonso and Domenica Guadagnino's legacy in Australian agriculture began in 1950 when Alfonso immigrated from Italy, seeking opportunities for his growing family. Leaving behind his pregnant wife, Alfonso with minimal education and no knowledge of the English language, worked extremely hard to build the landmark store in Manjimup – Alf’s Continental Store and Guadagnino Orchards. His skills as a confident communicator and great sense of humour helped him achieve his dream of providing a better future for his family. This is the story of the Guadagnino family.

Alfonso’s arrival in Fremantle in 1951 marked the beginning of a remarkable tale that transcends generations. His first venture into Australian life involved working at Mr Todaro's restaurant in Fremantle, an introduction to the country's language and culture. Following various work experiences in Geraldton, digging potatoes in Harvey, and picking fruit in Bridgetown, Alfonso's journey led him to Manjimup in 1955, where he decided to put down roots. It’s around this time that Domenica and their first-born daughter Angelina also came to settle in Australia. At four years old it was the first time Alfonso would meet his daughter. They went on to have five more children; daughters Firenze and Antonietta and sons Domenico, Antonio and Rafaelli.

The year 1960 witnessed the establishment of Alf's Continental Store, a thriving business that would become a Manjimup landmark for nearly five decades. Originally the store was located next to the Shell Garage before moving to “Robbie’s Corner” at the intersection of Giblett and Ipsen Street in 1966. Always supportive of local growers, Alf’s Continental Store provided small and medium producers with an outlet to sell their fruits and vegetables locally.

In the midst of his entrepreneurial success, Alfonso, alongside his wife Domenica, purchased their farm on Seven Day Road in 1970. The farm, initially a grazing property with a small apple orchard, underwent a transformation under Alfonso’s care. The Guadagnino family's dedication to their agricultural legacy spans four generations, with Fran, Dom, and Ray now leading the charge. Alongside their respective partners, Tony Potito and Tania Guadagnino, they manage the orchard in the prime Southern Forests location close to the iconic Fonty's Pool.

The Guadagnino family really do reinforce that Southern Forests is made up of generational farming families. Most members of the Guadagnino family have worked in the orchard, packhouse or store at some point in their lives. Presently Tania and Ray have their son Kyle and son in law Adam Board working on the farm. You may know Adam and Jess Board from Southern Forests Fungi. You could say agriculture, entrepreneurship and hard work runs in the family.

Ray was 11 days old when Tony Potito, 19 years old, arrived from Italy. Fran met her future husband Tony on 17th February 1968 but it wasn’t love at first site. With their generous nature and large home, it was common practice for Alfonso and Domenica to sponsor young Italian immigrants seeking a more prosperous life. They too sponsored Tony and it wasn’t long before he was working at Alf’s Continental Store. Love blossomed between Tony and Fran when they were paired up in the bridal party when Fran’s sister Angelina married Serafino Napoli (Sam Napoli of Napoli Mercato in Perth). Tony Potito has become a much-loved community member and instrumental part of the Guadagnino family and business.

In the years that followed, Guadagnino Orchards flourished under the careful hands of Alfonso Guadagnino, Tony Potito, and Sam Napoli, who collectively decided early on to focus on fruits like apples, pears, cherries, stone fruit as well as chestnuts, and walnuts. They were pioneers in planting avocados in the region during the 1980s, adding to the diversity of their produce. A lot of what they grew was sold through Alf’s Continental Store with surplus going to the Perth markets. Alfonso would routinely drive up on a Tuesday to the Wellington Street Markets where he was known was by “Number 87” for trading purposes. The Guadagnino’s are still known by this today at the Canning Vale wholesale markets.

Many locals and visitors will fondly remember Alf’s Continental Store or Alfie’s, as we use to call it. School kids on excursions walking past the shop would all be handed a free apple from the produce bins out the front of the shop. Alfonso and the team always had a smile on their face and greeted you with honest, sincere, and genuine care.

The closure of Alf's Continental Store in 2013 marked a significant chapter in the family's history. However, it paved the way for an expanded farm shop, providing the community continued access to the Guadagnino's quality produce. While the store closed its doors, the family's commitment to quality and customer satisfaction remains steadfast.

Beyond the orchard, the family upholds Italian traditions like tomato and sausage preserving, a chaotic yet beloved family affair. They also contribute to the community by donating fruit to various causes, from supporting local sporting clubs and schools, to contributing to Food Bank. Their charity of choice, the Royal Flying Doctor, reflects their commitment to broader community well-being.

The orchard's perfect location and optimal conditions add to the exceptional taste and quality of their fruits. Cherries are one of their favourite produce lines to grow and market. Often, it’s the busiest time in the orchard and packhouse with the family members working until 9 – 10pm some nights. The family also doesn’t have a quiet season. With such a diverse offering, their farm and packhouse duties flow from one produce line to the next. It’s a juggle, but they take great pride in knowing their produce brings such happiness to the Manjimup community and beyond. Bus loads of visitors come from Perth each year just to buy their fruits and nuts straight from the farm shop.

The family's passion for quality and customer satisfaction extends to their involvement with the Southern Forests Food Council (SFFC). They appreciate the SFFC's role in promoting the region and supporting local producers. It’s growers like the Guadagnino family that embody the spirit of the community and Genuinely Southern Forests brand.

As the family contemplates selling the farm, they reflect on their journey and contributions to the Southern Forests community. They are commitment to a smooth transition and hope for a suitable buyer who will preserve their agricultural legacy while embracing new opportunities.

Alfonso and Domenica Guadagnino's inspirational journey to establish Alf’s Continental Store and Guadagnino Orchards encapsulates the essence of hard work, resilience, and family values. For Fran, Tony, Ray, Tania, Dom and the entire family, it is more than a farm and shop—it is a place they call home, a testament to their passion and dedication to providing the finest produce to the community and beyond.

You can find the family online here or in person at Guadagnino Orchards - 595 Seven Day Road, Manjimup.


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