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Dean and Julia Ryan are enthusiastic second-generation producers making some big changes to the way they farm the land and grow their fruits, vegetables, and meats. With over 50 years’ combined experience working on the farm, they sure know a thing or two when it comes to growing fresh quality produce.

Dean and Julia Ryan of Lake Janis Farm, standing together on farm.

Historically the Ryans are known for producing conventional potatoes and beef cattle. The family have diversified their offering to include certified organic avocados, gold Dori kiwi fruit, as well as grass fed Jersey beef and lamb.

Their picturesque property, Lake Janis Farm, is named after Dean’s mother Janis Ryan, a family matriarch. Lake Janis is an impressive water supply, situated off the Warren River in the locality of Quinninup. Lake Janis Farm comprises two brands, Lake Janis Organic, for the avocados, and Lake Janis Grassfed, for the Jersey beef and Ultrawhite lambs, plus the gold kiwifruit is sold under “Dori Australia” branding.

Spread over 1,000 acres (387 Ha) of fertile land, the landscape comprises steep rolling hills, surrounded by Karri forests. It is the rich Karri loam soils, high quality water and a mild climate, that provide Dean and Julia with perfect growing conditions for their crops and livestock.

Dean and Julia have been working hard to create a production system based on remineralised fermented compost to effectively meet the crop and pasture nutrient needs. A pivotal moment in their farming careers has been discovering the power of biological and regenerative practices. Every production decision they make revolves around maximising nutrient density in their produce to have a positive impact on human health. Lake Janis Farm now utilises regenerative and holistic farming practices that aim to improve soil health by expanding biodiversity and remineralisation, increasing organic matter in soil structure, and transferring carbon from the atmosphere to the soil.

Dean and Julia Ryan inspecting gold kiwifruit vine

Dean and Julia are trailblazing the way for gold kiwi fruit production in Western Australia, as they are one of the first orchards in Western Australia to grow the Italian variety, Dori. Their kiwifruit orchard spans 3.85 hectares, with the numerous vines meticulously tended to across the seasons on their picturesque property. Rootstock was initially planted in 2016, with the Dori variety grafted onto the vines in July 2020, setting the stage for their first commercial harvest in March 2022. They stand among the pioneers in Australian gold kiwifruit production, showcasing the vibrancy of the fruit's yellow flesh, its excellent flavour, and smooth skin devoid of hair, distinguishing it as an early ripening variety.

Navigating the complexities of kiwifruit farming, Dean and Julia oversee a verdant expanse of growing vines, implementing an intricate system that demands a huge amount of labour. From pruning and training new growth to pollinating, thinning buds, and picking, every aspect of cultivation requires meticulous attention. They employ a New Zealand trellising system, training new growth up strings while managing the fruiting vines for optimal yield. The intricate dance of their growing system replicates year after year, ensuring a bountiful harvest. Pollination poses a unique challenge, as their orchard comprises solely female trees, necessitating the shipment of pollen from a male orchard in Victoria. With only a narrow window of three days to pollinate the flowers once opened, meticulous hand dusting with a wand ensures successful fertilization.

A gold kiwifruit cut to expose brilliant colour inside.

As they reflect on their recent harvest in early March 2024, the Ryans can now look back on another intensive period of picking that spanned two to three weeks. Timing proved critical, with the fruit having reached a specific BRIX and dry matter level before harvesting. Building on lessons learned from previous seasons, they adapted to fluctuations in weather patterns, aiming for an earlier harvest in response to warm conditions. Their commitment to excellence and sustainability shone through every aspect of their kiwifruit operation, embodying the ethos of Lake Janis Farm as a beacon of quality, nutritious produce grown with care and passion.

You can follow Dean and Julia’s journey on Instagram and Facebook.

Photos sourced from Lake Janis Farm,and photos captured by Craig Kinder Food Photography for Southern Forests Food Council.


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