From the beginning
It's tempting to start this page by saying "we've been involved in walnuts since 2003" but actually that's only part of the story. In many senses we're not even involved in walnuts yet - in fact, we're barely started on anything, but as far as we are it is hazels - but we think we've started on a path that will get us there in the end.
In 2000 Malcolm moved down to Christchurch from Wellington and even then he was musing about how nice it would be to have some land. This interest was probably helped by occasional visits to a friend with a farm near Dunsandel. Nothing much happened until late 2002, when he was looking through a real estate magazine and saw a lifestyle property for sale in the countryside north-west of Christchurch - a transplanted French chateau complete with Olympic sized pool and helipad!!! - and went and looked at it. Actually, he was more taken with the classic country estate house but over time this general appreciation of the rural lifestyle and environment translated into an increasingly serious interest in tree cropping.
In May 2003 we contacted a respected and as it turns out mostly respectable farm forestry consultant to talk over the practicalities of a small-scale farming venture, but before we actually managed any real education on the topic, the ideal patch of land leapt out of nowhere and ambushed us, so Malcolm bought it.
He was convinced that the ideal location for the climate and soil we needed would be to the south of Christchurch, around the Leeston-Dunsandel-Killinchy area, which also had the advantage of being away from all the lifestylers to the north. Somehow we have ended up an hour away, to the north with a more extreme climate and having to wade through all the lifestylers to get anywhere. Oh well, our wee patch of paradise is worth it.
It wasn't quite that hasty - in fact, he did get the consultant to look it over and checked out the soil types etc, but that was the beginning of Autumn River, the 10 year plan for bringing it into productive cropping, and the hope for a hundred years to come.
In 2005, this changing patch of land secured a special place in our hearts as the venue for our wedding.
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