When Carol Kunert and Mike Burston planted a decoy crop of walnut trees at their family farm, they never expected they would become a money maker.
Ms Kunert and Mr Burston, who have run the 170ha property King Valley Walnuts at Myrrhee for more than two decades, initially planted the crop to keep cockatoos away from their primary walnut crop, before discovering a new market — green walnuts.
‘‘It’s a surprising product for us as well. We didn’t even know about it until someone said, ‘do you do pickled walnuts?’ and we said ‘no, what are they?’,’’ Ms Kunert said.
‘‘I suppose we just didn’t realise there was such an interest in green walnuts.
‘‘You get asked questions by one or two people and you normally have a stock standard answer ready — but when it’s five or six people asking, you start to take notice.’’
Green walnuts are harvested in December when still soft and no shell has formed inside the outer layer. They are gelatinous inside and are often used to make pickled walnuts or liqueur.
Following continuous inquiries about whether they sold green walnuts, Ms Kunert and Mr Burston started to consider harvesting the decoy crop which sat on the top of a hill on the property.
‘‘We didn’t want to take any nuts away from the ones we harvest in April and figured this other walnut crop gets sacrificed anyway because the cockatoos get it,’’ Ms Kunert said.
Now with about 40 customers purchasing the green walnuts, Ms Kunert said they’d had to stop taking on new clients to ensure they could continue to deliver the handpicked and packed product.
With customers placing orders from as far away as NSW and Queensland, Ms Kunert said they were working to finalise the ideal process but could potentially be expanding the green walnut operation in the future.
‘‘We’re going for quality over quantity at the moment,’’ Ms Kunert said.