For 114 years the Debreceny land on the Comboyne Plateau has been used as farmland, from dairying to beef cattle, and from potatoes to a thriving avocado business.Now following in their family’s footsteps – sisters Jessica Cassegrain and Elise McNeil have brought their experience together to expand what the farm offers and have recently launched Avos 2U.
Elise, we’ve been following the journey of the launch of Avos 2U and thought we could find out a bit more from you! So tell us; how did you get into the avocado business?
Avos 2U operates as part of Comboyne Avocados, which is family-owned and managed by our parents, Kevin and Robyn Debreceny. The farm has a long and rich history, having been first selected by Kevin’s great grandfather in 1904. Together with our younger sister Gaby, Jess and I grew up on the property when it was previously operating as a potato farm during the 1980s and 1990s.
As daughters of a fourth-generation farmer, the farm has played a huge role in our lives, and I suppose you could say it was simply a natural progression! I have a background in marketing and business development, which has been beneficial in getting Avos 2U off the ground.
Can you give us a run down of the farm set up?
As our name suggests, we’re based in Comboyne, located in the beautiful hinterland of Port Macquarie. We’ve been supplying major supermarkets and produce markets for many years; however, we were often asked by people if they could buy direct from us. We recognised that this growing trend for consumers wanting to source their food from farmers and producers directly presented an opportunity for us to expand the business, and so the idea for Avos 2U was born.
The concept of a farmer’s market stall is not new, but taking it online has meant customers can order Avos 2U whenever they want, with the added convenience of having it delivered to their home or office.
What type of avocados do you grow? And when do they grow?
Most of our 6,000 trees are the Hass variety. Hass is Australia’s most popular avocado variety, distinguished by its classic oval shape and pebbly skin, whose colour changes from dark green to a deep purple/ black hue when ripe. We also produce a small amount of the lesser-known Lamb Hass variety, which are larger, rounder, creamier and mature a little later than the Hass variety.
Our harvest period runs from August to December each year, during which time customers can order boxes of avocados from www.avos2u.com.au
Jess, we’ve seen you eagerly packing boxes, and the business name is self-explanatory – but do tell us what the Avos 2U service is?
Avos 2U delivers premium grade avocados that are picked, packed and shipped on the same day, reaching customers fresher and faster.
There is so much love for avocados in the marketplace, and we aim to build on that by creating a special experience for our customers, from farm to fork. Our avos are picked with the utmost care, then lovingly packed to ensure ultimate enjoyment. Included in each Avos 2U box are nine avocados, a personalised note and ripening chart, as well as care instructions to help customers get the best out of their avocados.
How far and wide do you distribute?
Avos 2U ships to the eastern states of Australia – NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the ACT. We happily offer free shipping to locals, and every Monday we hand-deliver boxes of avos to customers living in the Port Macquarie-Hastings region, together with a posy of lavender also grown on the farm.
It sounds like the little business is really taking off! What are your future plans?
It is! Elise and I both have young families, and Avos 2U is a venture that has allowed us to strike a rewarding work/life balance. What started as a passion project less than a year ago was really well received during the inaugural season, and we’re excited to see what the future holds!
A lot of customers have ordered boxes to be delivered to family or friends as gifts, and it’s been lovely to play a part in that and bring little moments of joy to people; so we’d like to tap into the online gifting space a bit more going forward.
We’d like to continue to grow our social media following. Given the online nature of the business, social media has played an important role in helping us form a connection with our customers. People have been able to learn more about our story and get a behind-the-scenes look at the world of avocado farming by following us on Instagram (@comboyneavocados and @avos2u).
We’ve also been fortunate to collaborate with other businesses as part of Avos 2U’s launch, and we’d certainly be looking to do more of this in the future to help us build brand awareness.
Just for fun – we know the avocado is a versatile fruit! What is your fave way to cook them/eat them?
E: Smashed with feta and cracked pepper on sourdough.
J: I love to eat it on its own, with just a little seasoning!
All the best – we can’t wait for the next avocado season to order some.