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Farming and beyond: meet five macadamia insiders this International Women’s Day

Farming and beyond: meet five macadamia insiders this International Women’s Day

The Australian macadamia industry is full of amazing women working in a diverse range of jobs, from technical positions with large orchards and processors to business leaders and researchers. 

We asked five of the many impressive women in the macadamia industry to share their role and their first macadamia memory

Janelle Gerry: Managing Director of Macadamias Australia, Bundaberg, QLD

Janelle Gerry’s family has been farming in Bundaberg for generations. Her family planted one of the first macadamia orchards in the  prolific growing region. She is now Managing Director at Macadamias Australia, overseeing the operations and strategic direction of the vertically-integrated, paddock-to-plate food and agritourism business  that includes both an orchard and value-adding operations, where the cracked nuts transform into delicious flavour-coated creations, macadamia-chocolate clusters and as many other products as they can innovate. Macadamias Australia  also owns and operates a visitor centre and cafe in Bundaberg that expounds the benefits of Australian macadamias to the world.

Janelle’s macadamia memory

“In our own backyard when I was a young girl growing up, I remember getting the nut in a shell, putting it in the seam of the cement, and cracking it with a hammer. Probably the recollection is more about hurting my finger with the hammer! But my favourite way to eat them has always been as a healthy snack.”

Fiona Grigg: Grower at Zest Macadamias, Alstonville, NSW

With qualifications in horticulture science and plant genetics, Fiona Grigg took on the challenge of restoring an orchard using regenerative principles with her husband in 2019. The pair committed to a holistic management approach, enriching the soil and leaving the land in a better state than when they found it. After the 2022 floods that devastated the Northern Rivers region, the pair and their farm are bouncing back, thanks to the generosity and support of the community of growers around them.

Fiona’s macadamia memory

“I remember picking my first macadamia ever off the tree. I can remember cracking it and when it is so fresh, it tastes a little bit like coconut…and it has such a gorgeous taste.”

Macadamia farmer Fiona Grigg
Fiona Grigg

Jennifer Hulme: Technical Officer at Hinkler Park Plantations, Bundaberg region QLD

Jennifer Hulme had never seen a macadamia tree before when she moved to Queensland to take on her role as technical officer at Hinkler Park Plantations, part of Saratoga Holdings which are the largest macadamia producer in the world. Now, the 25-year-old manages 3000+ hectares of orchards, mostly in the Bundaberg-Childers region of Queensland. 

Jennifer’s macadamia memory

“Growing up, macadamias were always seen as a very luxury item. They were only ever really  around at Christmas time! But now I definitely love them just as the plain kernel rather than in chocolates.”

Lucy Andrews: Quality Assurance Manager at Macadamia’s Direct, Ballina, NSW

Lucy Andrews grew up in Sydney and studied food science and human nutrition at the University of Newcastle before following her interest in the food industry into her role at Macadamias Direct. Now, she combines her twin passions for food and agriculture as the Ballina-based processor’s quality assurance manager, overseeing food safety and quality procedures and standards.

Lucy’s macadamia memory

“My family eats a lot of nuts and seeds. We’re very into our nutrition and health. But the first time I enjoyed a macadamia was chocolate-covered as a sweet treat.”

Dr Stephanie Kerr: Research associate at Queensland University of Technology, QLD

Award-winning researcher, Dr Stephanie Kerr pursued her interest in molecular biology to PhD level. She now works at the Queensland University of Technology on the National Tree Genomics Program. In this role, she focuses on understanding the genetic processes behind how tree crops flower, hoping to use this understanding to benefit the macadamia industry. Because macadamia genomics haven’t been widely researched in the past, almost everything she does is something no other scientist has done before. 

Stephanie’s macadamia memory

“I remember as a kid we always used to have a bowl of nuts and a nut cracker in our house. I clearly remember the macadamias, because they were so hard to crack.”

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