So how did we decide on a hazelnut farm?
Harvey often bought The Land to read on the train commuting to and from his bank job in Sydney. Every month The Land publishes the Farming Small Areasmagazine. One month more than two years ago, Harvey read an article about a hazelnut farm in Mudgee, NSW, and his interest was piqued.
He started looking further into hazelnut farming and discovered Australia imported around 95 per cent of nuts used and it was not as labour intensive as other farming options. Our imaginations ran wild with thoughts of our own farm, harvesting nuts to be sold commercially, but also setting up a small farmgate stall offering products made with nuts we had grown. There might even be a chance for me to reignite my plans for a cookie or cupcake business with hazelnuts as the main ingredient.
So Harvey started emailing the Hazelnut Growers of Australia (www.hazelnuts.org.au) to find out what was involved in hazelnut farming. We visited a hazelnut grower in Lue, near Mudgee, and told him our plans. He was very enthusiastic and explained which types of trees fared best, saying he’d help as much as possible. Harvey also visited Montrose Berry Farm in the NSW Southern Highlands, and was disappointed to find out they didn’t do much with their nut trees.
After much research and emailing the Hazelnut Growers president, Harvey discovered the best place to grow hazelnuts in Australia was Tasmania, just outside Launceston. This is because the location lies on the right longitude for hazelnut growth, allowing the trees the frost they need, slopes to allow the soil to drain, good rainfall or irrigation options and the climate means the trees won’t overheat.
Although I haven’t visited Tasmania since I was 17 and Harvey hasn’t been there at all, and the fact we know hardly anyone on the island, we’ve still decided to take the plunge and set up our farm on the Apple Isle. If it doesn’t work, we can always come back, right?