Coastal herb grower diversifies

Judi and Ken Forrester’s nursery at Apollo Bay has grown from producing fresh herbs for cafes and restaurants to a specialist nursery.

AN Apollo Bay herb grower has diversified her business to focus on dried produce.

Ken and Judi Forrester started Otway Herbs about 30 years ago.

“It’s a large garden with an emphasis on herbs,” Mrs Forrester said.

“I did for a long time do cafes and restaurants, I’ve phased that out and do dried herbs,” she said.

The nursery sits 300 metres above sea level surrounded by the temperate Otways rainforest.

Otway Herbs produces and sells chives, onions, celery, horseradish, mint, rosemary and sage plants as well as medicinal herbs, perennials, shrubs and salvias.

Mrs Forrester said she grew herbs and plants from Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean.

“I’ve always collected plants from a very wide range of sources, always looking for new varieties, best flavours and best aromas,” she said.

“And my husband has a large section of native indigenous plants.”

Mrs Forrester said the nursery had a wide market for its produce and plants including mail orders to Australia’s eastern states.

Ken and Judi Forrester were also instrumental in helping to set up the Apollo Bay Market.

“Now I also participate in the Apollo Bay Farmer’s Market,” Mrs Forrester said.

The Forresters started the herb garden and nursery not long after they moved to the property more than 30 years ago.

“I put in a garden as soon as we came here, and only worked for a short time, and stopped work to have a couple of children,” Mrs Forrester said.

“By the time they were ready for school, the garden had expanded rapidly, and so that’s what I did instead of rejoining the main workforce,” she said.

Mr Forrester concentrates on indigenous and native plants, while Mrs Forrester spends time propagating and planting seeds.

“We’re open seven days a week, which is very limiting for us,” Mrs Forrester said.

“We do try to have someone here all the time,” she said.

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