Ideal setting for nut picking

Mount Irvine is an ideal setting for family nut farm


Farming Small Areas News
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Mount Irvine is more than just a beautiful setting to pick nuts as Kookootonga Chestnut and Walnut Farm shows.

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IDYLLIC: Husband and wife operators of Kookootonga Chestnut and Walnut Farm, Mark Bancroft and Robyn Scrivener enjoy the beautiful location. Photo: Kim Chappell.

IDYLLIC: Husband and wife operators of Kookootonga Chestnut and Walnut Farm, Mark Bancroft and Robyn Scrivener enjoy the beautiful location. Photo: Kim Chappell.

For more than 100 years, walnut and chestnut trees have been growing on Kookootonga, one of the original established farms in the picturesque Mount Irvine region in the Blue Mountains, NSW.

Owned by the Scrivener family since 1897, the majority of the Kookootonga Chestnut and Walnut Farm was created during the 1950s and 1960s by Bill and Ruth Scrivener.

It is now run by their daughter Robyn Scrivener and her husband Mark Bancroft.

Robyn and Mark live at Kookootonga, caring for the chestnut and walnut orchard which makes up 16 hectares of the 72 hectare farm.

Kookootonga is becoming increasingly well known as a 'pick your own' destination and is very popular among families.

"We produce tonnes of walnuts and chestnuts which are purely just for pick your own," Robyn said.

"Approximately one third of the orchard is made up walnuts and two thirds chestnuts.

"We have families who make it a special outing to come and pick nuts for the day.

"There are regulars who come back each year to pick, some of whom are now third generation visitors."

While being nestled in the Blue Mountains makes Kookootonga an idyllic setting for picking nuts, it also makes a large contribution to the orchards growth.

"The Mount Irvine area is an excellent setting for an orchard like ours," Robyn said.

"Factors like altitude, climate and soil make it ideal.

"The cool, temperate climate and the basalt soil are perfect for nut growing.

"Back in the 1950s, my father was a vet down in Wangaratta, and he went up to Bright - the area in Victoria where they grow the nuts.

"He saw that it was the same climate as our farm at Mount Irvine.

"He started the orchard then."

The orchard has a relatively short, six week harvest season which begins mid-March and finishes around the end of April.

This means Robyn and Mark need to make good use of their website, facebook and instagram to alert prospective pickers.

When it comes to maintenance, Robyn and Mark believe in letting nature take care of their nuts.

They do not use any fertiliser or chemicals, preferring to take a more natural approach.

"We don't spray at all," Robyn said.

"We use biological processes like mowing the burrs in to stop any mould.

"A friend has Devon cattle at Coonabarabran, where there is drought conditions.

"We have them here on agistment during our 'off season' and they keep the grass down between the trees.

"We don't irrigate either, relying upon rainfall to water the trees.

"Our main maintenance tasks revolve around making the trees suitable for our visitors.

"We don't use a trimming program on the trees as they are just too big.

"We under trim the branches back and make them a good height for pickers.

"It is important to make the trees safe to walk under for our customers."

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