The First Plants

Sandy, Debbie and Katrina Warne, 1983

People often ask us why we grow avocados and I just love being able to tell them the story so I thought I would share it here with you.

Horseshoe Bend is my family farm. It was purchased by Dad’s father, Hal Warne, in the early 70s and when Mum and Dad finished their university degrees at Melbourne Uni they headed up to Barham as newlyweds to take on the farm.

When Mum and Dad first moved up to the farm they were grazing cattle and growing lucerne and they also ran some sheep that came over from the property that Dad’s parents owned in the Mallee at Culgoa. After they’d been settled a couple of years, it was actually my beautiful grandmother Nen, as we called her, who said to Mum and Dad that they should plant some avocado trees and that she would give them the money to do it. So, 100 avocado trees of varying varieties were planted with a few friends and some fun I hear!

They planted Hass, Bacon, Fuerte, Wertz, Reed and even a variety named Gwen which is my grandmother’s name, you can imagine how much she loved that!

The trees were always a part of the farm and a real novelty for anyone visiting. Friends would always pick some avocados when they came to stay and they made for a beautiful view from the house as well. For the first 20 years on the farm they were really just a novelty and the focus of the farm was cattle and cropping. Mum and Dad had always wanted to plant more avocados but being very adverse to debt they could never really face the capital outlay that was needed to expand the crop.

In 1997 we lost my Dad to a long battle with depression (more about that in another post) and after deciding that she wanted to stay on the farm Mum looked at what she could manage by herself. With a little help once again from Nen and Pa, she expanded the avocado orchard and planted 2,500 beautiful trees that are now our prime production trees.

When Tim and I moved back in 2011, a little less risk adverse, we borrowed some money and planted another 1,500 trees. The avocados now provide the main income from the farm and are the major focus for us. We lease some country to a family friend who grows some rice and does some cereal cropping but we focus just on the avos.

So that’s how we came to grow avocados and where the first plants came from. I just love this story. My Nen was such a wonderful, positive women who gave so much to so many people and who really believed that things happened for a reason. She even had an OAM for community service.

She is no longer with us and unfortunately she left us before Tim and I moved back to the farm, but I just know that she is watching somewhere and that she would be so proud, not only of us but of herself for having the fabulous idea to grow avocados in the first place.

Left: Gwen Heinz 1979, Right: Katrina Warne 1984