In the upper reaches of the Manning Valley on the New South Wales Mid North Coast, David Flinter's property spans 240 hectares and has more than 3,000 macadamia trees. Flinter runs his commercial organic macadamia farm unlike most growers. He might be the only farmer who chooses to hand-pick the hundreds of thousands of nuts grown on his property every year.
"Everything we do is based on permaculture sustainable farming techniques," Flinter said. "We've put in half a dozen different varieties [of macadamia trees], which allows us to do our hand-harvest method staggered. I'm not aware of anybody else doing this method because it is very labor-intensive and our reliance on backpackers is huge."
While Flinter said he loved the results and satisfaction hand-picking his crop gave him, he admitted this season had been particularly grueling without the usual availability of backpackers to help with the harvest. For now, he has been assisted by a team of about five family and friends with this year's harvest and many of them have been working 12-hour days.
"The quality of our product is reflected in the techniques we use for harvesting," Flinter said. He supplies more than 200 shops across Australia and sells his products at multiple farmers' markets.