A New Direction

by Lynette on April 2, 2010

As a teenager I decide that one day I would like to grow Christmas Trees, this idea came about when we experienced a massive hail storm that lasted twenty minutes and completely ruined our entire fruit crop for the coming season and also affected the orchard with extensive damage to the trees for the next five years, many mature apple and stone fruit trees died as a result of the damage from the storm.

Mum and Dad were not getting any younger and this storm decimated what they had worked so hard for over so many years, they lost heart and the financial burden of trying to pick up the pieces and carry on the farm was very hard on them.

I completed my high school education in 1991 and went onto do tertiary studies determined that I would not take over the farming life because it was all too hard and very heartbreaking when the weather goes against you. I still lived at home with Mum and Dad and worked the farm when they needed help.

Over the next several years I fought the inbuilt desire to grow things, I enjoyed my garden. Eventually I realised I was fighting an instinct that I was born to, I had farming in my bloodline from not only my Mum and Dad but also their parents as well. Mum’s parents were Orchardists here in Oakdale as was three of Mum’s brothers and one of her sisters. Dad’s father was also a Farmer at Yerrandarie and in later years had a fruit run and general store.

In 2001 my dad passed away and the bulk of the farm duties fell to me. It was at this point in my life that I stopped fighting the urge to be a farmer and gave in to the realisation that this is what I was meant to do with my life. I went into partnership with Mum and took over dad’s role the best I could. I also had to reassess the future of the farm, it had been set up to be worked by two very talented people, my dad was a jack of all trades who could turn his hand to just about anything, build things, do his own repairs and had a knowledge bank that I would never have. Mum was a worker, carer and peoples person who organised all the financial and paperwork for the business as well as doing the motherly duties for me and working on the farm as well.

I knew in the years in front of me if I wanted to keep the property that the structure would have to change, I was only one person, a lady in her mid twenties. I could not possibly run the property as it used to be. Marketing trends were changing, many of the fruit varieties that we grew were out dated in the market and there was no way that I could manage the volume of fruit that I would need to, to keep the business going.

It was at this point in time that it was right for me to realise my dream of growing Christmas Trees. In August of 2002 I planted my first bare rooted Christmas tree seedling, one of many hundreds over the next few years. This heralded a period of learning, I had to learn how to grow them, prune them and bring them to a saleable product , this took a lot of experimentation and a few mistakes.
It takes three to four years from seedling to Christmas tree, they are pruned three or four times every year so they are a nice compact bushy shape and this is all done by hand. In December 2005 I sold my first Christmas Tree and I knew I had made the right choice.

Business is growing (literally), I will have over 6000 trees in production at any one time, all at different stages of growth. We have many happy customers who come each year. I try to take the hard work out of getting a fresh cut Christmas tree for your family, shoppers have the experience of walking through the plantation of trees, once they select one they like it is cut down for them and carried to their vehicle. Many people tell me the hardest thing is deciding which tree they would like to take home!

I am still learning every day. I have reworked the property to be managed by one full time farmer – me. I still grow fruit and vegetables for the local produce markets and for sale from the farm gate. We still get storms but the Christmas Trees weather the storms far better than any fruit ever could.

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