Macadamia fever has well and truly hit the Glass House region!
Tomorrow, students at Glass House Country Christian College are planting an entire macadamia 'orchard' to celebrate the Australian macadamia industry's 40th anniversary.
The planting of 12 macadamia trees will take place at the college's ag plot in Beerwah with local macadamia growers Cameron and Mary Lister coming along to help plant the trees and explain how to look after them.
Australia is the birthplace of macadamias and this year marks four decades of commercial production, dating back to when the Australian Macadamia Society, the industry body was established in 1974.
"The Glass House Region is one of the main macadamia growing regions of Australia, and it's exciting there's such a buzz around celebrating the iconic native nut and learning more about the important contribution the macadamia industry makes to this community," says Australian Macadamia Society CEO Jolyon Burnett.
"We're celebrating the global success of our national nut by planting trees in places that are important to our communities, and schools like Glass House Christian College play an important role in nurturing the next generation of macadamia growers."
The College's agricultural science teacher Jade King said she and the students are looking forward to watching the macadamia trees grow, flower and finally produce nuts. "We can't wait for the gorgeous sight and smell of the macadamia blossoms each year, and for future students to be able to harvest the nuts from the ground and enjoy cracking and eating them.
"We're hoping this project will help the students to develop a stronger connection with local macadamia farmers, and that they are able to get exposure to all facets of the growing cycle, right through to processing. It may provide the impetus for many of them to go on to become growers, researchers, processors or other industry experts."
Around 300 of the college's students have helped celebrate the industry's 40th birthday by participating in a range of macadamia-themed activities - including colouring-in sheets, project packs, and the tree planting. They join the 170 students at Beerburrum State School who also participated in the project.
The first Australian macadamia plantation was established in the 1880s, long before 1974, but it wasn't until the introduction of mechanical processing that commercial production of the tough nut became feasible.
"Australia now leads the world in kernel production and accounts for 30% of the world's crop," said Mr. Burnett.
From its small beginnings in the Northern Rivers 40 years ago, there are now more than 700 growers (from Mackay, Bundaberg, Gympie and Glass House Mountains in QLD to the Northern Rivers and Nambucca in NSW) contributing to the success of the industry. They produce around 40,000t of nut-in-shell each year, and 70% of this production is exported to 40 countries worldwide.
Since the 1990s, plantings have grown five-fold and the industry is currently worth $200 million annually at the farm gate and $320 million retail. It also employs thousands of people and contributes millions of dollars to regional economies.
Mr. Burnett said this growth and success are in no small part the result of Aussie growers who are passionate about innovation, quality and sustainability and constantly invest in research and development to produce high quality nuts that are in demand around the world.