Frances Strawberries working 'berry' hard to make most of tough year

BUMPY YEAR: Frances Strawberries owner Sam Frost said the business has experienced numerous
BUMPY YEAR: Frances Strawberries owner Sam Frost said the business has experienced numerous "ups and downs" this year.

Frances Strawberries, like many businesses across the country, have experienced a year they wish they never had to face.

The pandemic has hit the business harder than most others located in South Australia due to it's large amount of Victorian clientele - but they are working 'berry' hard to make the most of this tough year.

Owner Sam Frost said the business has experienced numerous "ups and downs" this year, with the cafe even having to close it doors for a six week period in March.

They were dealt a cruel blow when hard border closures between South Australia and Victoria were implemented, ultimately shutting out most of their customers.

"Probably around half of our clients come from Victoria, maybe even 60 per cent," Mrs Frost said.

"With the border closed, we lost all of our Victorian clients which was a massive blow to the business."

Mrs Frost said the time period was tough for everyone, with many staff unable to be guaranteed consistent work.

Before the pandemic, the business were used to people from towns such as Kaniva and Goroke consistently walking through the door, however, that isn't the case now.

"Frances is just over 50 kilometres from Goroke, and due to the 40 kilometre travel bubble, they are unable to come over the border," Mrs Frost said.

While the business has weathered everything that has been thrown at them so far, there have been numerous occasions where they've discussed whether they should stay open.

"We have been running at a loss - but we've decided to stay open because if you shut you doors there is a chance that people forget about you," Mrs Frost said.

"Staying open is an easy way for people to know that we are still here."

Mrs Frost said November is the busiest time of the year for the business, with many people used to picking fresh strawberries by hand.

"There will be a few guidelines when it comes to having people come and pick the strawberries," Mr Frost said.

While picking the fruit is enjoyable to many, what happens after it is picked is arguably the most exciting part.

Mrs Frost said the "A Grade" fruit will go to the shop, while others will be used in jams, desserts, cordials, sorbets and other items.

"The only time we don't use the fruit is when it is rotten - we are proud that there isn't much that we waste," Mrs Frost said.

The picking season runs from November to June, with January and February experiencing drop offs due to the extreme heat.

Mrs Frost said why it has been an incredibly tough year for the business, she still believes they are "lucky".

"I think we have been quite lucky, we have had losses but you look at businesses across the border, they have gone through long periods where they have had to keep their doors shut," Mrs Frost said.

While travel restrictions still affect the business, they are doing their absolute best to continue to provide a fantastic service to the small township of Frances.