Cracking the Code to Small Grower Success: How Coaldale Walnuts Have Grown from Strength to Strength
Ever thought about escaping the city for the countryside? Swapping out the daily commute for a tractor ride? That was Phil and Jane Dening.
In 1985, the couple were both working in successful white collar jobs in Sydney, when they decided to make their tree changer dreams a reality.
Taking a leap of faith, the pair relocated to Hobart in Tasmania, originally on a two-year contract with Phil’s job as a psychologist. Quickly they realised that they could comfortably live a rural lifestyle, while still commuting to Hobart’s CBD. And when Phil’s contract was up and he was offered a promotion in Victoria, their response was swift: ‘thanks, but no thanks’. Tasmania — complete with its slower pace — was now home.
Soon after, what started as a hobby for working parents — horticulture — became a serious business prospect. In 1997, the Denings purchased a large block of land in the beautiful Coal River Valley, built a house, and started planting an orchard of 1,500 walnut trees.
Determined to attend to all aspects of the business together, the couple achieved commercial production, but purposely kept their expansion organic. In the intervening years extra processing equipment have been added, alongside more and more product offerings. And most recently the husband and wife team are awaiting the latest addition to their business: the arrival of their daughter and son-in-law from Adelaide who will soon join the business and take over the farm in the years to come.
“It truly is a family affair!” beams Phil.
When asked after their success as walnut farmers, Phil and Jane are both adamant that a combination of hard work, passion, smart business, and luck is involved.
“Aren’t we lucky we got into walnuts?” exclaims Jane of the superfood trend that has taken over our diets in the past years. “We just happened to be in the right market, at the right time, in the right place.”
“We got in on the ground floor,” explains Phil of the original joint venture over 20 years ago. “We had open paddocks and planted the lot.”
The Tasmanian climate, and more specifically the microclimate of the local region, also ensures the trees the Denings grow and the nuts they develop taste and look better than most other varieties, meaning Coaldale Walnuts are go-to staples in pantries across Tasmania, Sydney, and Brisbane.
As for pantries further afield, both Phil and Jane are eager to see where their new relationship with Amazon Australia will take them in terms of expanding their customer base.
“We are small growers and this is a very big jump for us,” explains Phil. “To work with Amazon Australia is an incredible chance to grow our business.”
Indeed, volume and scale, as well as exposure and distribution, are the key factors in the couple’s decision to come on board. And, of course, priming their business for the next generation.
As part of Amazon Australia’s Launchpad program, Phil and Jane can expect hands-on support to help them quickly grow their business.
“We are learning all the time, evolving our processes and products and ways of doing things.” says Jane. “Working with Amazon Australia will help us so much.”
“When there is an opportunity, we say ‘yes’” adds Phil. “It’s worked for us so far.”
Coaldale Walnuts is one of the small local businesses featured on the Shop Tasmanian store: www.amazon.com.au/tasmania