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Gary Donaldson

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Gary Donaldson

"My family and I bought Cooinda (macadamia farm) about 12 years ago. The orchard's about 25 years old, and is about two and a half thousand trees in size. My family and I got into maca farming, about 12 years ago. I'd had a number of years in the corporate world, working around Australia and overseas, and we were looking for something to have a change of lifestyle. It's totally different to what we used to do in terms of travel and business meetings all day, and we just saw the opportunity to come here and spend some time doing something different. Working on the land, and getting our hands dirty, and enjoying the fruits of our labour and having something that's sustainable for the longer term for our family."

"A macadamia tree takes about five years to start producing nuts. It takes eight to ten years until it's reaching its peak production, and that that keeps going until the trees are in the 20, 30 years old, which a lot of this orchard is here. Here at Cooinda, we start harvesting in March each year and usually finish around September. Probably the toughest thing about farming macadamias is just the weather. Like any farm, it's either too much rain or too little rain."

"In terms of sustainable farming, we use native bees, so we have about 15 bee boxes spread around the farm to help with the pollination. We've propagated all those boxes ourselves over the years. We have owls that live around the area, and they help keep rodent populations down around the area. And we also use a lot of beneficial insects to control some of the pests that are in the industry."

"What brings us the most pleasure about farming, for my wife and I, it's about being outdoors, doing something together and taking a farm that was a bit rundown when we bought it and turning it into something a whole lot better today than it was when we got it, and hopefully leaving it in good shape so that our next generation of our family can run it and continue to run it as a business along the way."

"What's my favourite thing about macadamia farming? It's probably just being out in the open air and being able to work at your own pace without necessarily having a boss to please, and in the afternoon going for a walk with the dog and the family through the orchard, and checking out the health of the trees, or listening to the nuts fall on to the ground during the season. My favourite way of eating macadamias, probably raw. Just crack straight out of the shell is good. They are good on ice cream though, I have to admit."

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