The Forbidden Fruit denies being part of Facebook group that promotes 'medical freedom and human rights' in relation to COVID-19 pandemic

The Forbidden Fruit owner Phil Kent said being associated with the Facebook group was 'absolutely heart wrenching'. Photo: Pip Waller
The Forbidden Fruit owner Phil Kent said being associated with the Facebook group was 'absolutely heart wrenching'. Photo: Pip Waller

The owners of an independent fruit and vegetable shop on route from Mandurah to Bunbury say they are worried about the impact on their business after they were linked to an anti-vax group.

The Forbidden Fruit owners Phil and Kym Kent have denied being part of a Facebook group that claims to 'support medical freedom and human rights' in relation to vaccinations and the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I'd just like to say to people that no matter what they've read, that is not a reflection of the store at all, because this store isn't about who you are, where you come from or whether you're vaccinated against COVID or not," Mr Kent said.

The Facebook group was recently formed by Bunbury's Sweeney Todd Barber's Shop owner, Abi Locock and has about 150 members including a handful of local businesses.

Ms Locock attracted attention when she made a post to her business' Facebook page in September asking vaccinated clients to no longer use her service.

Mr Kent told the Mail a casual staff member had asked him if they could share The Forbidden Fruit's details to the group, saying it was a "local business group who wanted to support other small businesses in the region".

"So of course I said yes, because why wouldn't I support that?

"To be honest it's my own fault because I never checked up on what the group actually was. I'm a very trusting person by nature, which after this week will probably change.

"Even if I didn't support vaccination, I would never bring this into my business because that is a personal thing.

"What worries me the most is that we'll lose some of our existing customers and the chances of bringing in new customers will certainly be diminished because those people probably think I'm a wacko."

I'm honestly concerned this is going to affect my business forever.

The Forbidden Fruit owner, Phil Kent.

Mr Kent told the Mail that it was 'absolutely devastating' to be associated with the group when his business now needed local support more than ever after coming out of the "worst winter" he'd seen in the whole five years he'd owned the shop.

"We support primary and buy local where we can.

"One of the biggest things that has affected us and will continue to for a long time is the worker shortage on farms.

"We deal with local growers and we know that they're struggling because of the lack of backpackers due to COVID.

"I'm honestly concerned this is going to affect my business forever."

The Forbidden Fruit is located in Stratham and is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm and Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 3pm.