FRESH FACE: Mark Saunders of Northside Fruit and Vegies in the new store in Fitzroy St, Grafton. Photo: Adam Hourigan
FRESH FACE: Mark Saunders of Northside Fruit and Vegies in the new store in Fitzroy St, Grafton. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Home-grown businessman

FROM an honesty box in the front yard, Mark and Rhalda Saunders' fruit and vegie business now has a city centre shopfront.

Northside Fruit & Vegies opened its doors at 87 Fitzroy St last Friday and one week on Mr Saunders is feeling optimistic about the venture.

"We had a local artist paint the windows and we have as much local produce in as we can get," he said yesterday.

Six years ago Mr Saunders broke his back in five places in a horrific accident and doctors told him he'd never walk again.

"I wanted to get off Centrelink payments," he said.

His much-loved vegie patch started producing way more than the family could eat and that's when they started to sell extras in the front garden, once selling 1500 melons at $2 a melon.

"All my produce is chemical-free and I'll have a whole lot of it in the store come November," Mr Saunders said.

At the moment he's proud as punch of the Tucabia bananas he has in store for a modest $1.69 a kilo.

"And we've got some local tomatoes coming in soon too."

When the honesty box filled up, Northside Fruit & Vegies moved into premises at the old Grafton Brewery to expand its wholesale business and sell some produce to the public.

"We outgrew the premises there in nine months and hopefully we outgrow this one too," Mr Saunders said.

"We've had absolutely fantastic feedback.

"Everyone loves it and the shop is open and bright and the produce is laid out so you really see it.

"The people who really made this possible were the people at Many River Opportunities."

Northside Fruit and Vegies is open Monday to Friday 7.30am to 6pm and Saturday 7.30am to 4pm.

It does free delivery and customers can order mixed fruit and vegie boxes by phoning 6643 2291.



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