Macadamias Australia’s sustainable new visitor centre - Bundaberg Region
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Showcasing sustainability: The Macadamias Australia Visitor Experience

Guest Blogger Bio Template Jen Richards

Macadamias Australia embed sustainability into every aspect of business. They’ve even used nuts as a renewable energy source for their new visitor centre!

 

When the family behind Macadamias Australia decided to open a cracking plant and visitor centre in their orchard, they knew that sustainability would be embedded into every aspect of the build. They wanted the sustainable practices used throughout their orchard to flow through the building, so that visitors have a tactile way to experience the journey of Australia’s native nut from farm through to fork.

 

Nestle in nature

Located on the main road into Bundaberg, the new visitor centre is nestled inside the orchard itself. As guests approach the building through the trees, they experience the magnificent draping macadamia flowers when the trees are in bloom (August-October). Once inside, sunshine streams in through the glass ceiling dappled by the overhanging branches of trees. Great care has gone into even the smallest procurement decisions that the family have made for this new venture. The giant totem poles that dominate the cafe space and tell the story of the family are made with macadamia wood recycled from trees that were removed to build the new facility. The cafe’s macadamia-inspired menu features locally-sourced produce. The chocolate-coated macadamias available for tasting are dipped in ethical chocolate as standard. Uniforms are Australian designed and made. The list goes on.

“Wherever we can, we try to make decisions that are right,” says Janelle Gerry, one of the siblings at the helm of this family business. It’s a philosophy that was taught to her by her parents who established the farm in the 1960s. “Knowing that we're handing over our business to the next generation, we're very mindful of the environment and the way in which we leave the farm. It's going to be left in a better state than when we took it over.”

Powered by macadamias

Visitors might well expect such a facility to be powered by renewable energy. But at Macadamias Australia it’s not just solar panels doing the work. Macadamia nuts themselves power the facility. Macadamia nuts are notoriously hard. Once, they went to waste but the family now uses them to power their drying and cracking plant, as well as keep the lights on in the visitor centre.

“Once the shells get cracked in the processing facility, they go into a big silo, and then into furnaces to create heat to dry the nuts, as well as to create electricity.” As well as generating heat for drying and electricity for power, burning the shells in this innovative way creates biochar, a high-carbon charcoal. This is spread under the trees as a fertiliser, ensuring carbon is stored in the soil and not released into the atmosphere. “It's actually a complete circular economy,” says Janelle.

Sustainable farming

Any good steward of the land will tell you that everything comes back to the soil. It’s no different at Macadamias Australia, where the family see caring for the soil as the main game. Janelle explains: “We've committed to a clean, green future by caring for our environment and we do have a lot of sustainable farming practices to support that philosophy.” These practices aren’t just environmentally friendly, they also impact flavour. “We can see the difference healthy soil makes to the quality of the tree, which in turn affects the quality of the macadamia nuts.”

But the family takes sustainable farming further by using beneficial insects to feed on the eggs of pest species so that there’s less need for chemicals in the orchard. “That's something that we're very proud of across the whole region. Everyone is becoming very conscious of reducing sprays and the effects on the environment.” A cleaner environment makes their orchard a haven for bees, which are housed in hives around the property. “It's a wonderful education for people when you can share what you're doing to improve soil health. It inspires them to use some of those methods themselves,” says Janelle.

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Saturday, 28 May 2022

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