Bay grown produce in season and available to pick up fresh

FRESH PRODUCE: Metta Henderson displaying some of the vegetables on offer at the Gypsies trailer off Nelson Bay Road at Anna Bay.
FRESH PRODUCE: Metta Henderson displaying some of the vegetables on offer at the Gypsies trailer off Nelson Bay Road at Anna Bay.

The traditional fruit and vegetable shop may be a thing of the past in Port Stephens but for the Bay community and its visitors fresh, locally grown produce is still available and in rich abundance at this time of the year.

Anna Bay is home to two of the Bay's longest surviving fresh produce retailers - Bakker's Big Peach on Port Stephens Drive, famous for its landmark big peach monument, and Gypsies on Nelson Bay Road, famous for its green roadside trailer.

Graeme Bakker, from Bakker's Big Peach, says this summer's rains have ensured a bumper crop after a couple of meager seasons due to drought.

"These days it's more of a family hobby than a business... in fact we only started up again about seven years ago after a long absence. Dad has the knowledge to grow the trees, David and I help pick the fruit and my wife [Carina] and the kids help in the shop," he said.

PEACHES GALORE: Lucus Bakker, 14, serves a customer at The Big Peach.

PEACHES GALORE: Lucus Bakker, 14, serves a customer at The Big Peach.

"We have around 1000 trees now, predominantly peaches but we also have plums and nectarines. The season is expected to run for another three weeks or so."

Mr Bakker said that a large percentage of customers were locals who return year after year.

"Many people know the family business, which started as a tomato farm before dad switched to peaches," he said.

Fortunately for lovers of fresh produce, you can still get the now famous, delicious Anna Bay tomatoes - in addition to a range of other home-grown vegetables - from the Gypsies trailer, a mainstay off Nelson Bay Road since 1985.

It hasn't always been smooth sailing for owner/farmer Stan Hall and his sales team of Metta and Frank Henderson with threats of removal, but the business has not only survived but has thrived in recent years.

CROPS: Stan Hall has been growing crops at his Nelson Bay Road farm for nearly four decades.

CROPS: Stan Hall has been growing crops at his Nelson Bay Road farm for nearly four decades.

Asked about this longevity and a reason why he has prevailed, Mr Hall quipped: "I'm still looking for a good year, it hasn't happened yet."

From a humble chook farmer as a kid, Mr Hall has been operating his own farm on the family property off Nelson Bay Road in Bobs Farm, growing tomatoes, corn, pumpkin, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, capsicum and lots more.

The trailer also stocks a small amount of fruit such as rock and water melons, mustards, pickles and hand-woven hats.

"We get great support from holiday makers, but we have mostly relied on local support. We are now seeing the kids and even grandkids of some of our customers from back in the 1980s," Ms Henderson said.

"Some of the produce is organic and about 90 per cent of it is grown by Stan at his Bobs Farm property... but it's all fresh. We have even had celebrity chef Rick Stein here since he opened his new Bannisters restaurant in Soldiers Point."