A business plan was written once we had secured the property.
We felt that we had to be sensitive to the surrounding National Park with whatever we decided.
We needed to find a suitable endeavour which could be run from Sydney with a minimum of supervision. We were prepared to look at any long term project that was not labor intensive and did not involve livestock. '
We carried out soil tests and studied the rainfall records for the area.
We investigated sinking a bore-and found that we would have had to go down around 180 feet only to get water with a salt content to make it unusable.
The large dam provided us with sufficient water for the early stages of our project.
Being near the ocean we didn’t get frosts, however, there is a lot of salt in the air coming off the ocean.
Some of the property had white silica sand and some was decomposed granite which had produced a hard clay. So we had both extremes to work with and had to find suitable horticultural endeavour that could survive and prosper in this environment.
We decided on Palms, and went to Lord Howe Island to study the Kentia, which is slow growing and has a high return once it has reached maturity and is producing seeds. This meant that we would have to invest a great deal of time and money before we could expect a return. These Palms would be field grown close to Sydney which meant a stronger plant, grown in virtually the same climate conditions with shorter transport requirements. These conditions would produce a field hardened product which would command a premium price. We would then harvest the seeds and plant out second and third generations to replenish the stock as it is sold.
We bought some seedlings while we were there and purchased more locally.
These were planted out and we then added a number of other species over time, with limited success.
While they were small they required a lot of attention and we lost about 4% during the first year. Once they started to develop we only lost stock when they were damaged by storms. They survived drought however, their growth slowed dramatically.
We bought some more advanced stock from Queensland and this reduced the early losses, although the initial cost was higher. We have had some success with Cycads and have been propogating and planting out more of these each year.
At this time some of the stock is ready for sale and most is producing seed.
We have started laying out new areas for second generation planting and will be collecting seeds to propagate ready for planting out.
We are recognised as Primary producers by the ATO and have kept detailed records and filed tax returns since the project started.