Pecan grow­ers ahead of mod­ern pa­leo trend

Central and North Burnett Times - - RURAL WEEKLY - Ge­orgina Poole

MORE than 20 years ago – an era post pa­leo, but pre-pa­leo diet – Pal­la­mallawa, NSW, cou­ple Rob and Susie Long were qui­etly nut­ting out ways to cap­i­talise on their newly pur­chased par­cel of land on the fer­tile banks of the Gwydir River.

While not vast enough for broad acre farm­ing but boast­ing rich al­lu­vial black soils, the in­ten­sive farm­ing in­dus­try of pecans was call­ing.

“We had a young fam­ily and were both work­ing so needed a re­al­is­tic, rea­son­ably low main­te­nance in­dus­try, and trees, be­ing a per­ma­nent crop, re­ally ap­pealed to us,” Mrs Long said.

And if all else failed, she laughs, at least they would have a pic­turesque grove of stately de­cid­u­ous trees to ad­mire for decades to come.

Thank­fully their ven­ture proved a great suc­cess, and with the hum­ble pecan to­day hold­ing a cult sta­tus among the kale and quinoa of the su­per­food move­ment, the Longs are, per­haps, Pal­la­mallawa’s orig­i­nal hip­sters.

Mrs Long’s hearty laugh quashes such sug­ges­tions, but she admits the pecan’s per­fect health record played a large con­sid­er­a­tion be­hind their de­ci­sion into pro­duc­tion.

“Pecans are such a nat­u­ral, healthy food and in re­cent years the clean eat­ing and whole­food move­ment plus the swing against highly pro­cessed food has re­ally re­in­forced the in­dus­try and been hugely ad­van­ta­geous,” she said.

Their first or­chard was planted in 2000 and in­cluded 700 trees of five mixed va­ri­eties, in­clud­ing the pop­u­lar larger Pawnee Nut.

Es­tab­lish­ing a pecan in­dus­try is not for the im­pa­tient, with trees re­quir­ing graft­ing and up to seven years to re­turn a crop.

Mrs Long said, thanks to cur­rent tech­nol­ogy, to­day pre-grafted trees were the norm, re­duc­ing crop times dra­mat­i­cally.

In 2012, the Longs launched their com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion, Pally Pecans, to great ap­plaud.

The Pally Pecans range in­cludes raw ker­nels and flavoured ker­nels, in­clud­ing honey roasted, maple cin­na­mon and lime and chilli.

“The range is based on per­sonal choice and lo­cal de­mand. We re­ally try to an­swer the lo­cal voice and these are def­i­nitely our most pop­u­lar flavours,” Mrs Long said.

Pally Pecans has a strong lo­cal presence, widely stocked across the north-west and via their Face­book site.

The Longs also pro­vide bulk nut and shell to Syd­ney’s Flem­ing­ton Mar­kets, and are proud of their bou­tique pro­duc­tion.

“Har­vest is a won­der­ful time and is fas­ci­nat­ing to wit­ness,” Mrs Long said.

“Around Easter time each year, with as­sis­tance from our friends at Stah­mann Farms, three ma­chines roll through, the first of which me­chan­i­cally shakes the trees via a hy­draulic arm that pulses so that the nuts drop.

“The sec­ond ma­chine sweeps and air­brushes the ground to rid the husks, leaves and twigs and push the nuts into windrows while the third ma­chine is like a street sweeper, scoop­ing up the pecans.”

The cou­ple has also en­joyed a long association with Moree on a Plate Food and Wine Fes­ti­val, and is thrilled to be one of many pro­duc­ers at­tend­ing the 2017 event.

“Moree on a Plate is such a pos­i­tive story for a re­gional town and an op­por­tu­nity for res­i­dents to proudly sup­port lo­cal pro­duc­ers and a so­cial, fam­ily day out.”

Af­ter more than 10 years ex­hibit­ing at the event, Mrs Long said many were sur­prised to see or­chard­ing en­ter­prises in a re­gion syn­ony­mous with grain and cot­ton pro­duc­tion.

“Moree’s cli­mate and soil is ideal for pecan grow­ing and it’s quite a wa­ter-in­ten­sive crop, which our val­ley is for­tu­nate to han­dle.”

“We ab­so­lutely love be­ing in­volved in Moree on a Plate and spread­ing the won­der­ful mes­sage be­hind our fresh, lo­cally grown fare and it is truly a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate be­ing a mem­ber of such a great small com­mu­nity.”

Moree on a Plate will be held Satur­day, May 13 at The Moree Se­condary Col­lege.

For more in­for­ma­tion or for long lunch event tick­ets, visit www.moreeon­aplate.com.au.

The range is based on per­sonal choice and lo­cal de­mand.

— Susie Long

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

SUC­CESS­FUL VEN­TURE: Rob and Susie Long, of Pally Pecans, will join scores of other lo­cal pro­duc­ers at Moree on a Plate.

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