Hi Lovelies, 

So where do we start with Rayner's? A local farm that we all know about but there is a lot more I believe we do need to get more closely acquainted with.

This story I could not possibly rewrite, Len's struggle with small-scale farming 40 + years ago, and how farmers markets and direct sales with his customers turned it all around. It's real, honest, and an example how community is the life blood  for our precious small producers that can fall through the cracks next to larger, mass monoculture farming.

In Len's words, Rayner's start...


In 1977 Heather and I purchased a 37 ½ acre bush bock (we wanted 5 acres, but the larger block was cheaper so we bought it!) – the block was so overgrown, Heather and I took nearly 1 hour to get to where our house is now built.

We built and moved into our new house in 1978, and decided to clear the land so we could run a few cows. Unfortunately, when we looked at this idea we needed over 1km of fencing. So Plan “B” was to plant peaches and cherries (with no fences). At this time we had a fish & chip shop, so we figured growing potatoes would break up the soil and make it better for growing trees. This proved correct and we planted 3 – 4 acres, and to this day we still have potatoes growing from this initial planting.


After 7 years we found cherries not to be a good option for this area – birds and rain virtually took all of the crop year after year (bird netting wasn’t an option at this time), so we pulled all the cherries out and planted more peaches.

Time moved on and prices seemed to drop more each year. By the time we had been farming for 20 years, we were starting to wonder if there was any future for a small peach farm. During this time, we had only made decent wages one year – all the rest we just survived. In fact, up until our 23rd year, we couldn’t even afford to do repairs on our house. When we started growing fruit we were getting around $25 – $28 per 9kg tray. The year we stopped sending fruit to the wholesale market we were averaging $8 for 5kgs.


By the 25th year we were starting to realise that unless we did something completely different, we were going to lose our beautiful farm. Memories of the era all contain nightmares of driving backward and whatever I did, I couldn’t stop. It is extremely demoralizing when whatever you do to make ends meet, it seems to paralyze your thought processes, and the worse the problem gets, the worse the paralysis. Despair had well and truly set in. There seemed to be no hope of us keeping the farm.

Farmers Markets

Then Farmers’ Markets reared their head – the first was at Pakenham, and suddenly there seemed to be some future. The next was at Boroondara….and eventually we were attending around 25 markets per month. The relief was unbelievable, we were against all odds making money – the farm was again a great place to be.

From this experience, Rayner's opened up their farm further to their customers and offer some really incredible services, that you lucky ducks don't have to travel far to enjoy!.

In the words of Karen Fox who made our introductions from her work with Rayner's at Yarra Valley FM. Thanks so much, Karen for your inspiration and generous time and support.

'Offering Rayners produce through Fill Good is great for people who don’t have time to go to the orchard or who didn’t know (or forgot) they were there.

I call ahead (a couple of hours at least), they tell me what’s good in the orchard today, I order over the phone, they pick it and I pick up later in the day.  Last week I also asked them to pick a bit of anything else interesting, so on top of the regular citrus and tamarillos which are great, I ended up with Inca Berries, Strawberry and Yellow Guavas, an Irish Strawberry, Feijoas, Plums, Cumquats, Native Finger Limes and Persimmons.  Awesome!'

Rayner's is most happy to take phone and orders and have your fruit ready for pick up same day!

'If you want a night off making dinner for the family, their frozen savoury and sweet pies are a pretty good option too.  Their bottled fruit has been lovely (peaches & cherries) plus the preserved pineapple goes really well on home made pizzas.  The ice-cream is a bit of a “sometimes” treat but everyone loves it.'

We have a pie every Thursday now. Whatever is cooking in the cafe! Peach and blueberry this week, lamb pie the week before! There was a young woman, working who had just been trained up by a local baker to make Puff Pastry. courtesy of Rayner's, offering opportunity and training for their staff. She had a smile form ear to ear
'Has Len taken you for a tour yet?  There is so much diverse variety.  It’s really a treasure trove as far as local food goes.  450 varieties is an amazing effort, all planted by Len and family over the years since their kids were small.  Sometimes Len will pull out some really unusual things like Indian bananas and Chillean cherries (things that never even hit the shop - they’re for tour tastings only). I know I’m a bit of a fresh food nut but it’s like having a fruit theme park in our backyard. Gotta love and support that.  We’ve had a tour as a family during stonefruit season.  All you can eat from the trees and then buy what you pick to take home.  Looking forward to taking my Mum and Dad on a tour at spring blossom time.'

A farm tour through the rows of blossom trees in spring is on my to-do list!

'Not only are they a great and struggling local business but they’re a long term sponsor of Yarra Valley FM and that deserves praise I think.  I’ve had quite a bit of interaction with Len, Cam, Caroline and the other staff through organising a couple of our functions there also.  Really great people who are learning to reach out to what the locals need. I’d really Love to see it work out for them all.

Rayner's offers bottling and preserving classes for schools and social groups with a farm tour included. There have been some kids preserving cooking parties too! 
Once again our farmers are our heroes. Our food sovereignty deserves their support. A huge thank you to the Rayner family for all your magnificent work.

So the next time you tuck into your Rayner's mandarin or apple, just take moment and picture the hands, land, and family that brought it to you. 

We thrive when our community thrives, and vice versa.

Blessed for sure!


The aim was to get away from “supermarket fruit” that looks good but has no flavour, and focus on growing varieties of fruit for their taste, not their size and unblemished appearance. We wanted people to come to the farm and experience traditional fruit flavours straight from the tree, to taste a fresh sweetness that would bring many people back to childhood memories of fruit from yesteryear, when fruit was grown more for flavour than a uniform shape.

Sending love and health for the week ahead

Chris and the Fill Good Fam xx