Picking mandarins at Wisemans Ferry

A mandarin on a treePicking your own fruit is one of life’s great pleasures, but up until now I didn’t know you could do it in winter. I thought the season ended in April when the frost starts and the last apples at Bilpin are picked.

Happily you can pick fruit later in the year because winter is citrus season and there are pick your own citrus farms a few hours Sydney.

When backyard lemon trees are covered in yellow fruit and school kids have mandarins in their lunchboxes, it’s time to look up your nearest pick your own farm for a great day out and the freshest fruit you can get.

A wide river with a pylon in the foreground and hills in the background

The Hawkesbury River at Wiseman’s ferry.

We visited Ford’s Farm at Wisemans Ferry, which is a pleasant spot on the banks of the Hawkesbury River. The farm is on the flood plain, under beautiful sandstone cliffs. We drove out a narrow road which, according to Hawkesbury Harvest, has two pick your own farms on it. Ford’s was the further of the two from Wiseman’s Ferry, and traffic to the two farms on the narrow road meant everyone needed to take turns at waiting for people coming the other way to pass.
A mandarin tree with ripe mandarins
Ford’s farm has a range of citrus over winter, starting with limes, moving to mandarins and ending with oranges. In early July we were able to pick a few remaining limes and plenty of easy peeling mandarins.

Unlike picking apples, you use scissors to pick mandarins so that you don’t tear the skin when you pull them off the tree. We put a deposit on some scissors and buckets as we went into the farm, which was deducted from the price of our fruit on the way out. You pay for the fruit by weight according to how much you pick.

Black-faced sheep
Alongside the mandarins were some lovely black faced sheep. They watched us from a neighbouring paddock, and some kids tried to attract them over with handfuls of lucern hay.

I hope you’re enjoying these clear cold winter days and that juicy winter citrus has found its way into your kitchen. If you’re looking for citrus baking inspiration, my current favourite is Nigella Lawson’s lemon polenta cake.

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