Macadamia growers off to a cracking start with QRIDA loan

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A wish for a quieter lifestyle and financial assistance from QRIDA have given Nathan Townsend and his partner Tirtzah Hartvigsen a cracking start on their farming dream.

Tirtzah Hartvigsen

Nathan Townsend and Tirtzah Hartvigsen

Five years ago, Nathan and Tirtzah were living on the Gold Coast when they decided they wanted a change of pace. They saw an ad for a Gympie macadamia farm in need of some repair and thought they would try their hand at farming.

“Other than in the odd backyard around the Gold Coast, we hadn’t seen a macadamia tree before. But we said, why not give it a go?” Nathan explains.

After purchasing the farm and spending four months cleaning it up, a visit from an agronomist confirmed that without a sustainable water supply, their farm had minimal hope of survival.

“We started looking into what we had to do to really turn the farm around, and that’s where QRIDA came in,” Tirtzah says.

“We immediately felt like QRIDA was an organisation we could trust. We applied for a loan and received finance to invest in irrigation across the property’s 2,700 trees.”

“If we hadn’t installed that irrigation, we’d be hundreds of thousands of dollars behind. The loan was vital,” Nathan says.

“You only have to step foot on a farm without irrigation to see the difference, it’s like chalk and cheese. It’s an incredible help.”

Soon after the couple settled in Gympie, Nathan’s parents purchased the macadamia property next door. When his parents decided to sell in April this year, the couple jumped at the opportunity to expand their enterprise and secured a First Start Loan to do so.

“It has really helped us… it was about security for the future,” Nathan says.

When reflecting on the application process for both loans, Tirtzah says while there was work to be done, it was well worth it. They were guided through the process QRIDA’s Regional Area Manager for the Burnett region, Cynthia Godden.

“Doing the budget and putting something together for 2, 3, 5 years – that was really good information to know. It was good to know the surplus cash we would have if everything did go to plan.

“QRIDA were excellent. They understood what we were saying,” she says.

“Other lenders put up barriers as soon as you mention farming, whereas QRIDA welcomed it,” Nathan echoes.

Now with the two farms, Nathan and Tirtzah have produced an even better yield than they predicted. Their first harvest produced only 3 tonne – now, they’re harvesting 60 tonnes of top-quality macadamias across 4,500 trees.

“We still think there’s the possibility to go a lot higher, but it all depends on the weather,” Nathan says.

Nathan and Tirtzah remain positive looking to the future, enjoying life on the land – a life they say wouldn’t be possible without assistance from QRIDA.

Nathan says, “For our way of life and the way that we are at this very minute, which is in a good position, we wouldn’t be there without that loan.”

For more information about QRIDA’s First Start Loans, visit QRIDA First Start Loan

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Primary producer

Last updated: 12 August 2022