In 1989, the school council purchases an orange orchard of 20 hectares just below the mountain of Buderim.

The harvest of oranges, mandarins and lemons was an all-in effort over the winter months in the first year, 1990, at Matthew Flinders Anglican College.

With the college’s building program underway, the orchards had to be cleared and parents and students were invited to pick fruit before and after school and on weekends.

Foundation teacher Chris Bull led the agriculture program and the harvest days. Students’ practical work centred on the citrus orchard, some of which was established more than 50 years ago and farmed up until 1990 by Norma and Cameron Milne and before them by the Fieldings.

Agricultural students spent several sessions picking and packing cartons of navel oranges and Hickson and Emperor mandarins for local juice and interstate markets. Some were sent as flood relief to Charleville State School and two consignments went to the Flemington Markets in Sydney, where they netted more than $20 a carton.

On many Saturday and Sunday mornings in May, June and July, the orchard rang with the voices of school children and their parents as they picked fruit for local markets and the Palmwoods Juice Factory.

One Saturday, vehicles were loaded ready for the Mooloolaba flea market the next morning and they sold out before 10.30am. Fruit was sold by the car bootful and most students brought bags to fill with mandarins picked during lunchtimes.

The fruit proceeds from the year tallied about $2500, which went towards the swimming pool fund. With just 161 students, the Parents and Friends Association raised a massive $20,000 in the first year. The pool was opened within two years by Olympic swimmer Glenn Housman, who swam the first lap.

Written by Debbie Southern

“We didn’t have an oval – we had this massive orange orchard. We were in the orchards eating oranges all the time.