Macadamia fever has well and truly hit the Northern Rivers, the macadamia capital of Australia!
Local cancer care accommodation, Our House, has joined the growing list of local organisations, schools and groups helping to celebrate the Australian macadamia industry's 40th anniversary by planting a beautiful macadamia tree in their garden.
The planting will take place on Tuesday 9 September at 11am, with local macadamia grower Lynette Knoll from Modanville coming along to help plant the tree and explain how to look after it.
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 Northern Rivers is the macadamia capital 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 Our House plays an absolutely vital role in our community."
Our Kids Fundraising Manager Rebekka Battista said she was looking forward to watching the macadamia tree grow, flower and finally produce nuts.
"The macadamia tree will provide a beautiful space for patients and their families to relax and unwind," said Rebekka. "We can't wait for the gorgeous sight and smell of the macadamia blossoms each year, and for the kids to be able to harvest the nuts from the ground and enjoy cracking and eating them."
In addition to the planting at Our House, ten local schools (and approximately 1000 local school children) have helped celebrate the industry's 40th birthday by participating in a range of macadamia-themed activities - including colouring-in sheets, project packs, a fancy dress fundraising day (raising funds for the Macadamia Conservation Trust) or planting a macadamia tree. The AMS is also donating a tree for the Indigenous Garden at Lismore Community Garden.
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. The Northern Rivers region is largest macadamia producing region in Australia, producing around half of Australia's macadamias.
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.