Originally from New Zealand, John Tidy of Wharenui Avocados was drawn to farming in the Mary Valley because of its fertile soil. It’s a move that has paid off for this passionate producer who grows spray-free avocados on 20 hectares at Amamoor, in the Mary Valley, about 17km south of Gympie.

John bought the property and its existing 500 trees in 2003 and now has close to 1000 trees, producing fruit from May to December. As well as Fuerte, Sheppard, Hass, Pinkerton and Wurtz varieties, he grows two hectares of custard apples, a hectare of citrus lines and some market garden lines.

“I’ve farmed all my life – mainly sheep and cattle and have worked as a jackaroo and a shearer. But I’ve always loved avocados and Australian farming. Now I’m an Aussie farmer growing avocados,” he says.

John, who is committed to growing spray-free produce, says he has slowly educated his customers that a perfect-looking fruit is not always the most flavoursome.

“What’s on the inside is more important for taste and health benefits and my customers now understand that. To achieve this, I keep fruit on my trees longer than anyone else and open the trees to let the wind through to stop pests.

“Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve sold my produce at the Jan Powers Farmers’ Markets at the Powerhouse, Brisbane every second and fourth Saturday and I’m also at the Noosa Farmers Markets every Sunday.