The Zunker family’s farming roots run deep beneath Bundaberg’s rich soil, spanning all the way back to colonial times when the iconic sugar industry was first established. Their great-great-grandparents began growing sugarcane, until diversifying into the new century with other small crops including watermelons, sweet corn and cucumbers over six generations.
Current head of the family’s farming dynasty, Darren, along with his wife Linda, son Ethan and his wife Emily, now run a successful sweet potato enterprise that supplies every state in Australia, and, with an eye on their future, planted 33,000 macadamia trees four years ago.
Their maturing orchard is planted close to Bundaberg’s pristine coastline, benefiting from cool, moist sea breezes and sandy soil that they care for meticulously. “The macadamia tree is a shallow-rooted tropical tree. It's always been in the canopy of the rainforest feeding off the breakdown of the mulch under the trees. So, if we can feed those roots with a self-sustaining compost, that's where you get many benefits,” explains Darren.
Driven by innovation and a desire to work alongside Mother Nature, the family is experimenting with the introduction of owl boxes to prevent mice and are trialling flies as an effective pollinator for the flowers when their orchard comes alive each Spring. “You can see insects, you can see spiders, grasshoppers, beetles - they're all here. That's a good thing. That's what you want to see and that's what we're about.”
Aligned with a 360 Reefcare Certification and a commitment to the continued improvement of their soil and farming practices, the Zunkers are excited to watch their young trees flourish alongside the future generations of their family. When asked what the Key to Happiness is, Darren told us proudly, “I think the key to happiness is harmony. If you’ve got good harmony in your family, that's it”.