Leaving the busy city life behind six years ago has ignited a spark in Huxley Hilltop Farms’ Kate Crook and she says waking every day to tend to avocados and Kwai Mai Pink lychees is a pleasure.
Kate says avocados are one of the most versatile fruits, but they are also one of the most underutilised, and since leaving her event coordinator job and becoming a farmer her eyes have been opened to the adaptable produce.
The 42-year-old and her family moved to Childers to support her father, Jim Randell, in his retirement plan to grow Australian cabinet timber, avocados and then lychees at Huxley Hilltop Farms.
“After generations of family cane farming dad decided to set-up his retirement plan and bought the property 20 years ago,” Kate said.
“Living in Brisbane, raising children, we would always holiday up here – and we decided to move because why wouldn’t you want to live where you always holiday.
“Now I am an avocado farmer that grows lychees.”
Kate said stepping in to the field of farming may have been a little daunting at the start but other farmers in the Bundaberg Region welcomed her with open arms.
“I wake up excited every day, because one minute I’m an agronomist and a scientist, and the next I am a mechanic, and that’s every day,” she said.
“For someone who didn’t grow up in Bundaberg or the region I have so much support given to me by others who are so willing to share their personal knowledge.
“There is so much support for people who are new to the industry, all the other avocado growers, who you would think are your competitors, but they are not, they are only too willing to help, and I ask a lot of questions.
“This region is a melting pot of ideas and farming is an inspiring industry to be a part of.”
Huxley Hilltop Farms sit on 40 acres and Kate says to help the small avocado farm stay relevant it was important to push the clean and green message.
“I think people are happy to pay for quality,” she said.
“At the moment we are working on sustainability of the industry, and we believe it is important to support local businesses.
“As a family-based farm, we are happy in our niche.”
Kate said her husband Damon was a local school teacher, and although he was not hands on, he played an integral part in keeping Huxley Hilltop Farms going.
“I’m the farmer and my husband is the school teacher, I have met a lot of women in the farming industry who don’t realise the integral part they play; it’s a little role reversal for me and I see what my husband does and he makes it possible.”
Versatility of avocados at Huxley Hilltop Farms
The mother-of-two said during the past six years she had learnt there was more to avocado then just eating it on toast, and with the help of Instagram she had been able to obtain and share a long list of delicious recipes.
“I’ve learnt if you can put butter in it, then you can put avocado in it,” Kate said.
“Heating avocado gives it a different creaminess. And the health benefits are there.
“I have a friend who makes avocado Kilpatrick, then I promised to swap a lady (Joe McKay) a tray of avocados for her recipe for an avocado cream pie and it is delicious.”
Avocado Cream Pie
In a cup combine: 1 tbs gelatin, 1/4 cup cold water.
In a small saucepan melt: 1/3 cup butter, 1 tbs honey, and stir until blended.
Blend 1/2 cups shredded wheat biscuits. Press evenly and firmly over base and sides of a 25cm pie plate, and chill.
In a bowl combine: 250gr soft cream cheese, 400gr can of sweetened condensed milk, and mix well with electric beater.
Add 2 ripe mashed avocados, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 tsp grated lemon rind, 1 tsp vanilla, and the gelatin mix.
Beat until smooth, and then spoon into chilled crust.
Chill again for two to six hours before serving.
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