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For more than 20 years Gerard Whitty has watched over his oats crop at his property in Wangaratta, Victoria. His partnership with UNCLE TOBYS is almost as long.
After two decades of farming Gerard is very particular about his crops and especially his oats. “We grow the Mitika oat, a great variety that survives extended wet conditions as well as drought,” says Gerard. “I also grow canola, wheat and barley.”
A typical day for Gerard starts at 5:45am with a scout around his 240-hectare farm, and finishes between 5pm and as late as 8pm at night, during the busy harvest period.
To produce UNCLE TOBYS oats take time, “We prepare the paddocks for sowing from late February into March and April,” says Gerard. “The oats are sown in April, at the same time as the soil is fertilised. By late October the plump, golden grain is ready to harvest. Harvesting of the oats usually takes a few weeks to complete using a combine harvester and trucks.
Gerard is also an oats procurer for UNCLE TOBYS, working closely with local farmers in the Murray region, to ensure that are grown to the standards required by the UNCLE TOBYS Team. In February, he negotiates with his local UNCLE TOBYS buyer on the price of oats.
“Most of the local growers in this area supply oats for UNCLE TOBYS products. The company provides a ready market for our oats, we negotiate pricing in February, and so there’s far less worry about making a living throughout the harvest,” says Gerard. “UNCLE TOBYS are part of the landscape around here.
The UNCLE TOBYS name and logo has significant historical significance, it was designed by Nellie Love, the niece of Clifford Love – the founder of UNCLE TOBYS, who was a keen artist and a student of literature. She suggested the name and designed the logo based on the great literacy character in the “Life of Times of Tristram Shandy” by Laurence Sterne, first published in 1759. In the book Uncle Toby is a gentle, uncomplicated lover of his fellow man. The original design of Uncle Toby standing with the Widow Wadman has seen little changes over the years, so has become a treasured representation of the UNCLE TOBYS heritage.