Sue & Mushy [Peter] Baldwin
Why did you go into farming?
[Sue] Mum and Dad bought their macadamia farm in Valla in 1979. We came up regularly for holidays and thought what a great lifestyle and place to live.
[Mushy] Before, I was a civil engineer working as a project manager with a medium sized construction company and Sue was the CEO of a Not For Profit employment agency, originally for people with a disability and then broadening out. We both loved living in Melbourne and our jobs, but life was hectic, stressful and Melbourne winters leave a lot to be desired.
How long have you been farming macadamias?
(Sue) We bought our property in 1989, only 3 kms down the road from Mum and Dad’s, with a 5 year plan to move up here. It only took us 20 years! During that time, we averaged 9 weeks a year ‘holidaying’ on the farm, bought adjoining land and planted more macadamias. We now have a total of 2,300 trees, plus manage Mother’s 700 trees. We ‘retired’ to the farm late 2009.
What do you think is special about growing Macadamia?
[Mushy] They grow in this wonderful climate near fantastic beaches, what’s not to like. Although harvest time is long and busy, macadamias are not labour intensive throughout the year. There are times you can leave the farm to do other things, even disappear for weeks to travel (in non-COVID times). We love the lifestyle and the camaraderie of the local macadamia community. Plus, we still love eating them.
[Sue] The fact that they are native to Australia makes them pretty special.
We have always tried to farm sustainably and in 2011 finally did the paperwork to become Certified Organic. We should have done it years before but believed farming 100% organically would be too difficult until we were living up here. In reality it is not difficult at all to farm macadamias organically.
Mushy being on the board of the Nambucca Macnuts factory; why take on this extra work?
Macnuts was set up after there was a slump in the market and NO processor would take our nuts, regardless of pre-existing contracts. (We were taking our nuts back to Melbourne and selling them at markets on the weekends. It was that or leave them to rot on the ground.) It was a tough few years for the macadamia industry. Mid-North Coast macadamia farmers decided we needed our own processor who would be looking after our interests and so Macnuts was born.
I was thrilled when Macnuts has become a certified processor of organic macadamias. This further enhances Macnuts’ quality and boutique status.
Being a voluntary board member is a lot of work, but I believe in the organisation and thought I could assist particularly with the organic side of the business.
Macnuts is not the biggest nor the flashiest processor, but it is local, and it works hard to meet the needs of individual growers. That is why I support Macnuts.