A brief history of the Victorian Cherry Association (by Ken Gaudion)

A General Meeting was held in the Wandin Hall in 1964 between interested people involved in the cherry industry growers, grower/sellers and commission agents.

The aim of the meeting was to form an industry association where members could help tackle issues of concern and work together for a better future.

It was agreed that there was a need for such a body, and it was also agreed that it be known as the Victorian Cherry Association.

Fred Gaudion chaired the meeting and became elected inaugural President, with John Anker elected Secretary, and (I think) David Foreshaw was elected Treasurer.

Ed Burgi was more than likely responsible for the Rules of Association and the formation and vetting of the Constitution.

A committee was elected to run the association. If I recall correctly, subscriptions were raised at two Pounds [$4] per member.

Some topics and issues raised and dealt with over the years include:

  • Root borer damage, and premature tree death
  • The processing industry for white cherries (initially McRobertsons Cherry Ripe, Silvan Fruit Processors). Initially white cherries, then red cherry varieties were trialled and some were successful
  • Deputation to SPC to can white cherries, (which were coloured red) some trials were done on canning with stems on for the Japanese market, [a bit of a problem putting lids on with stems sticking out!]
  • The future of the Queen Victoria Market in relation to the new Footscray Market because the Vic market was a gift to the fruit and vegetable growers of Victoria, from Queen Victoria
  • Picking price discussions involving the Australian Workers Union
  • The lack of a federal association, and subsequent formation of Australian Cherry Growers Federation, to lobby and fight the issues for the industry membership cards which allowed for discounts on certain purchases
  • The Annual Cherry Festival, which began at the Wandin Recreation Ground, and later moved to Wandin East. John Anker was a major force behind this activity. If I recall correctly, John is the only life member of the VCA granted for services rendered.
  • The Biggest and Best Cherry Competition, perpetual shield to be won for the Biggest and Best 5 kg container, Biggest and best 5kg Commercial container, Biggest individual cherry
  • In 1981 Ed Burgi thought of sending the winning biggest and best 5 kg to Prince Charles and Diana as a wedding gift, and the runner up was sent to the Pope.
  • A levy on containers was collected for the VCA by carton companies which had the then VCA logo incorporated into the print run. Stickers with the logo were available for the then new 5kg polystyrene containers
  • Imported processed cherries - ACGF won a dumping case against Italy. Dumping continued by re-labeling through France
  • ACGF won tariff protection, via the Australian Cherry Panel, setting a tariff on imported processed cherries which reduced to zero over about 4 years
  • Future of Knoxfield as a fruit research station was set to end. VCA fought to save it, the budwood multiplication block was moved over a number of years to Frankston
  • Frankston was then set to close which saw the formation of the Australian Deciduous Tree Fruits Association - a group of nurseries and industry bodies. They negotiated one of the first privatisations under Minister for Agriculture (Ian Baker) and secretary (Mike Taylor) to run the budwood multiplication scheme, which became Ausbuds
  • VCA took the concept of the research and development cherry levy to the ACGF which took a few years to get going. At that stage no research was being done by government agencies in Victoria
  • VCA started and ran (with the Melbourne Market Authority) the first box cherry auction. This annual event raised thousands of dollars for charity and created awareness of the start of the cherry season by getting prime TV coverage after the weather forecast.
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