Meet The Locals- Barenuts
Barenuts Macadamia Nut Farm is home to farmer Mick and self confessed foodie and former city chick, Jodie.
Together they have created a premium Macadamia nut business using only the finest local, organic and Australian ingredients to create natural and seasoned nuts, nut butter and wholesome sweet balls and bites. Managing a relatively small orchard allows Mick and Jodie to focus specifically on soil health and sustainability, something that’s unachievable on larger macadamia nut farms.
Read our interview with Jodie below to learn more about the beautiful region they farm in, their 'Farmer Wants A Wife' love story and day to day life on the farm.
>> Barenuts Macadamia roasted in lemon myrtle was featured in the December 16' Discovery Box
What's your food philosophy?
I’ve always been drawn to healthy food which is why I like to call myself the ‘Health Nut’. From a young age, I always preferred carrots sticks in my lunch box than a roll-up. Unless my Mum was working in the tuckshop, I didn’t ‘do’ sandwiches that weren’t fresh. I have always listened to my body so I know when I am lacking something because I naturally crave certain foods. I am a natural born foodie – I am always thinking about my next meal while eating and I always look at the menu before we eat out – much to my husband’s distaste, but that’s why he always ends up with food envy because clearly he hasn’t had enough time to carefully consider the menu!
My food philosophy is keep food simple, fresh, seasonal, nourishing and as bare as possible. I love a bit of texture in my food too so as long as I have barley, wild rice, farro, quinoa, lots of fruit + veggies + fresh seafood then I am happy, oh and I hate cooking without fresh herbs!
What inspired you to create Barenuts?
Barenuts was born approximately 10 years ago by the previous owners we purchased the farm from. We took over their existing customer base – then I got busy in the kitchen creating our range of dry and honey roasted macadamia nuts, macadamia nut butter and gluten free treats. We have just completed a refresh of the brand to give the products a look and feel that is our own.
Our philosophy at Barenuts is to keep the ingredients as ‘totally bare’ as possible. I get really excited when I discover a new flavour combination and when it comes to macadamia nuts, well they are just so versatile that they pretty much find their way into every meal in our house, without even trying. Nothing beats the buttery taste of a macadamia nut fresh from the tree without any of the fuss that goes into making them flavoured. But in saying that, nothing also beats the citrusy zest that only Australian natives like fresh lemon myrtle and kaffir lime can provide
Tell us a little about the region you farm in?
As the crow flies, we are directly inland from Fraser Island (one of my favourite places in the whole world) so we consider ourselves pretty lucky when it comes to calling the Fraser Coast home. It’s a fairly diverse region and food bowl – red claw, rosella, lychee, pineapple, liquorish and sugar cane farms are all close by and we have access to some of the best seafood in Australia – which suits my pescetarian taste buds just fine!
The Barenuts Macadamia Nut Farm is based on 90 acres just east of a town called Bauple – which is home of the macadamia nut, or Bopple Nut as it is known to the locals in the area. The soil is really rich red volcanic soil so the macadamia nut trees love it and we are blessed with lots of coastal rain and an abundance of wildlife including Kingfishers and Black Cockatoo’s, the perks of being so close to Fraser Island!
You have a real 'Farmer Wants A Wife' love story, can you share a little of this with us & how you work together on the farm?
Call it fate, serendipity, luck, chance but I still pinch myself at just how lucky I got! Four years ago my husband Michael and I met online – yep, we are one of those online dating success stories and consider ourselves extremely lucky to have met the way we did.
The farm thing… well that, I pretty much went into it blind – two and half years ago Michael said to me ‘let’s by a macadamia nut farm’ and despite feeling ‘nuts’ at the mere thought of leaving my solid well paid job…a huge part of me was intrigued and figured why not, a tree change would be nice? I was working as a media/communications advisor in Brisbane when this property came up and when we realised it came with the Barenuts business, we snapped it up and haven’t looked back. Even though I am busier now that I ever have been, I am so much more time-rich too. I never imagined that I would be doing what I'm doing but I couldn't imagine doing anything else now either. We love our farm, we love our job and we love the idea of raising children here and being able to work with them around us.
Our days at the farm certainly vary, we have our moments but work well together because our goal in moving to the farm was to spend more time together. We have our domains and don't tell each other how to run theirs! Michael covers all of the orchard/farm work and I help him out during harvest i.e sorting nuts once they have been dehusked but in all honestly, I rarely have any spare time to do even that because I am too busy running the commercial kitchen at the farm – where we produce a full range of gourmet macadamia nuts (dry roasted and honey roasted), macadamia nut butter + gluten free treats. Michael helps me in the kitchen when I need it – mainly as our Chief Bare Ball Roller because with those farmer’s hands, I just can’t compete AND it’s a two-person job AND we get to chat.
Not only do you grow your macadamia nuts, you also grow Kaffir Lime and Lemon Myrtle. These amongst other Australian herbs, seeds and spices make up your dry roasted nut blends. What's the driving force behind this and where do you get your inspiration for flavours from?
From a young age I was very aware of flavours and I never enjoyed the taste of red meat so when I noticed I was picking white meat out of every meal, I stopped buying it. I have been a pescetarian for 6 years now and pescetarian and vegetarian food excites me – it’s definitely where I get my inspiration from. I hate wasting food too so I get a real kick out of creating meals using everything left in the fridge/cupboard. Some of my best meals and flavour combo’s have been born this way!
When we first looked at the farm I remember smelling this amazing kaffir lime tree before I actually saw it and it was one of the biggest ones I had ever seen. With the abundance of citrus trees growing here including mandarins, limes, lemons, oranges and crazy amounts of banana trees, we knew we were sitting on some fertile soil so we plant a lemon myrtle tree straight away! If it can one day get to the size of the kaffir lime, we will be very happy because nothing beats freshly roasted lemon myrtle and kaffir lime leaves wafting through the kitchen!
We went back to the bush for our new range of Bush Tucker Blends because we wanted to focus on complementing (not masking) that lovely buttery flavour of the also native macadamia nut, so they are lightly flavoured with ala natural homegrown, local, organic and Australian native herbs, seeds and spices!
What's your biggest achievement to date with Barenuts?
I think running a successful small business is our biggest achievement. Every day we are learning something new and for me, possibly using my communications degree more than I ever have in any other job I have had since leaving university. I am really proud of our recent rebrand too, I really wanted to make the brand our own and I feel like we have done that with the rebrand. It’s certainly taken time because finding the time in between running the business and farm has been challenging but we got there!
I am secretly chuffed at my late-night brainwave to make our macadamia nut butter squeezable – Michael’s claim to fame is the name ‘Barenuts Butter’ and we are proud to say it’s Australia’s first squeezable nut butter! It’s 100% macadamia nuts and nothing else. We squeeze it onto anything and everything.
We are also really proud of our new nursery of 6,000 baby macadamia nut trees. There is a three year waiting list for new macadamia nut trees so we figured why not bite the bullet and get some more in the ground now, while we can. Our aim is to grow these new babies over the next 12 months so one day we can be self-sufficient – our goal (and retirement plan) is to have 10,000 trees. Given the trees take seven years until they produce nut commercially, at times it can feel like a very ambitious dream but we are hopeful we can get there – with a lot of hard work of course!
What would your ideal last supper be?
This is probably the hardest food-related question that anyone has ever asked me! But I have given it some thought and figured ‘last supper’ surely means entrée, main + dessert!
Entrée - Pan-fried macadamia nut encrusted scallops on a bed of pureed cauliflower + baby capers + lots of dill
Main - Any type of fish curry on a really earthy, grainy wild rice/barley/farro risotto with lots of native spices + fresh herbs
Dessert - Raw Banoffee Pie with coconut cream (I make the most amazing base with macadamias, medjool dates, pistachios, walnuts almonds and coconut oil)
To discover more and connect with Jodie, Mick & Barenuts, click below:
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