Tantanoola may be one of the Limestone Coast’s smallest towns, but it’s home to one of Australia’s largest hydroponic herb growers.
“Integrating the food, wine, tourism and agricultural sectors within the Limestone Coast will provide better brand and product recognition, enhance employment opportunities and enable others to see the region for the great place that it is.” – Ian Lines, Holla-Fresh
Each year, major supermarkets across South Australia, the Northern Territory and parts of Victoria and New South Wales purchase around five million ‘units’ (ie. punnets or bunches) of culinary herbs from Holla-Fresh. The vertically integrated company was launched by the Lines family in 1991, and features almost four hectares of greenhouses under production. “We’re growing about 13 different varieties ranging from your basil, coriander, chives, mint, various thymes, oregano, marjorams – so a very wide range of different crops requiring different growing conditions, and we can get up to four or five crops a year, all year round,” says managing director Ian Lines.
The hydroponics industry is highly labour intensive, and 55 staff oversee everything from propagation to hand-harvesting and hand packing. Holla-Fresh is also at the forefront of technology, using state-of-the-art glasshouses and environmental systems for optimum results.
“There’s no wastage in water with evaporation, and there’s also no wastage with fertilisers; the plants take out 100 per cent of what has been put in, and the fact that there is no herbicide spraying is another strong advantage,” Ian says. “The end result is a fresh, versatile product with superior colour and taste, which offers great nutritional value.”
How has the Limestone Coast region enabled you to create a successful brand or business?
We may live in the driest state in the driest continent in the world, but the availability of pristine ground water in the Limestone Coast is a definite advantage when it comes to food production. We also have relatively mild seasons compared to other areas, allowing for steady, even growth. Our regional location with its wide availability of land has enabled us to expand our business operations as needed, in order to meet market demand for our products. Excellent transport connectivity has also ensured that we are not disadvantaged despite being located a fair distance from capital cities.
Where would you like to see the Limestone Coast region in the next 5 years in terms of brand recognition for the region, marketing of products and collaboration of industries?
I would like to see the Limestone Coast recognised for its progressive and highly productive industries – there are a lot of amazing businesses out there achieving incredible things. I’m very proud to think that a product such as ours is grown in a small place like Tantanoola with a population of 500 people, yet can be found in up to 400 stores around Australia – it’s a great story, and one that I think consumers would appreciate, so getting these stories about the growers and producer out there is a good thing.
What are some of the successes that you have achieved (and have these been made possible because of your location)?
Our company has not only been a strong employer of locals, but has enabled two generations of our family to work side-by-side, and I am extremely grateful for this – it’s what motivates me to come to work every day. In our second year of operation, we made the leap from local sales to national sales, and have been growing steadily ever since, which is incredibly exciting. From an awards perspective, we are proud to have topped the state in the Innovation Category at the 2012 Advantage SA Regional Awards after previously being recognized at a regional level. We were also inducted into the Awards Hall of Fame that same year.
Regional Hero: Ian Lines
Holla-Fresh White Road, Tantanoola, 5280
Telephone (08) 8734 4223