Fifteen years ago I traded a corporate career for life on the river. Close enough to Melbourne to get a quick City fix, plus a great community with excellent coffee and four healthy active boys to keep me entertained, I've never regretted the change.
Published January 10th 2014
There's a new reason to visit Gateway Estate's distinctive green shed on the Maroondah Highway in Coldstream.
The old truck sits out front whenever Gateway's Green Shed is open
The first thing you notice when entering is the aroma. While the Yarra Valley region is filled with the scents of wine, cider, cheese and chocolate, the heady perfume of this giant enclosed greenhouse full of strawberries tops the lot.
Then there is the atmosphere. The dappled light filtered through opaque poly sheets has a luminous quality quite suited to the sensory excess of an indoor strawberry field.
The warm friendly hosts clearly enjoy what they do and are justifiably proud of their patch.
It is very simple to pick your fill of delicious berries.
The rows of strawberries are raised off the ground in channels. For children, this is optimal height for snipping off succulent berries with the scissors provided. Taller folk may need to stoop a little.
This is a place for children and adults to work together, as the pendulous globes are fragile and can be easily damaged.
Grandmas shepherd their small charges carefully around the shaggy green aisles, spotting glistening red berries.Heads bow with concentration as chubby fingers grapple with the scissors used for snipping off individual fruit without dropping or bruising the precious cargo. Filled boxes are delivered for weighing with obvious pride and a great sense of accomplishment.
Guidance is essential, and this environment provides a wonderful opportunity for mentors to reinforce life messages, such as how important it is to have respect for the food we eat, and to understand the effort that goes into producing every morsel.
To ensure there are plenty of berries to go around, patrons are asked to avoid the temptation of nibbling the fruit until safely weighed and paid. At time of writing - $16 for one kilogram.
But you don't have to go picking to enjoy the experience. Sit at an indoor table at any time with a coffee, freshly squeezed juice or strawberry based treat and soak up the atmospherically controlled view through giant picture windows.
Coffee with a view of the accessible indoor strawberry field
Gateway has been in the Valley for many years now, and while the u-pick berries are a recent addition to the stable, the team continue to produce undercover tomatoes, basil and capsicum and also stock a great range of seasonal local and exotic fruit, vegetables, meats, pasta, dairy and their own Gateway Estate wines.
A tempting array of fresh vegetables complements the fruity flavour of the shed