Heather Chong is a member of the Aged Care foundation Board. This is her story.
Born in UK, Heather and her husband Christopher and their two children, Philippa and Alistair, came to live in Tasmania in 1999. Prior to this move they had lived for many years in Hong Kong and Singapore. Heather and Christopher chose Tasmania because the educational opportunities for their children were excellent and they liked the climate. They knew they wanted to run a business of their own and Heather ruled out hospitality because she knew her culinary skills were not at the right standard! They chose to grow apricots at Richmond and fourteen years later are still supplying local and interstate markets with quality apricot and more recently, pears and figs.
At present Heather has 48,000 trees on 109 hectares. Some of these trees are old and need culling and this may be a time to consider further diversification. Apricots are easy to sell but hard to grow because of the uncertainty of the weather and there’s not much you can do to modify this, apart from the odd hovering helicopter for unseasonable rain and frosts.
Heather’s life in Singapore included working in PR and marketing so she is well placed to promote their business. In summer they employ many casuals for picking and distribution but Heather is involved with all aspects of fig production, including working every week during the season at the markets in Hobart and Bellerive.
In her spare time, Heather is an alderman of Clarence City Council, president of Hobart Rotary Club and enjoys spending time with her mother, Shelagh Shaw, one of the clergy at St David’s Cathedral in Hobart. Shelagh came to Tasmania eight years ago and her home in Sandy Bay has been the well-used drop in centre for the younger Chongs. Heather’s family includes three cats and two dogs; Heather knows dogs have friends and cats have staff and thinks her animals are fortunate to live where they do.
Heather’s willingness to join the Aged Care Foundation Board and her energy and enthusiasm at meetings make this a most positive partnership. We are all looking forward to the apricot season!