7 things you didn’t know about Summerland Farm

Locals know that Summerland Farm is a stunning macadamia and avocado farm in the Ballina-Byron hinterland. But how about these facts?

If you’re a Northern NSW local, you’ll know that Summerland Farm is a stunning macadamia and avocado farm set high in the Ballina-Byron hinterland. Complete with restaurant, café, Adventure Playground, Retail Hub and function centre, it’s a tourist attraction like no other.

But, even locals might be surprised by these seven lesser-known facts about the iconic attraction. Such as…

1. Summerland Farm is one of the most successful disability enterprises in Australia

Summerland Farm is a business of Aruma and exists to provide employment for people with a disability. We currently have over 100 supported employees working on the Farm – and following the new Farm expansion, that number is growing!

2. The Farm was established by one of Aruma’s founders, Lionel Watts, in the ‘70s.

In the early ‘70s, Lionel discovered an emerging opportunity in Australia that could help people with a disability find employment: growing avocados.

After surveying land in NSW, Lionel came across the property at Alstonville, which he considered ideal for establishing an avocado farm.

3. Lionel’s initial request for a government subsidy was denied

Government officials originally refused Lionel a subsidy to develop the farm as they thought “farming was not a viable proposition for disabled people”. Lionel knew they were mistaken and called on his good friend, Social Services Minister William Wentworth.

Together they successfully reversed the decision, and Summerland Farm received a Federal Government grant of $47,200.

Three men in high-vis holding tools in front of green trees.

4. Summerland Farm was once in the middle of a volcano

But don’t worry, there’s no chances of eruptions now! More than 20 million years ago the volcano erupted over an area now known as Southern Qld and Northern NSW.

Over time this region became a caldera and as a result, home to some amazing plant species and rich volcanic soils. Did you also know that this region in Australia is where macadamia nuts originated?

5. One of our longest-running supported employees has been at the farm for over 35 years!

And he’s a bit of a local celebrity in these parts. Benny ‘the ram’ Muldoon (he’s a massive Marist Brothers Rams supporter) celebrated his 36th year at Summerland Farm this year.

During that time he’s worked in pretty much every area of the farm, but these days you’ll find him serving up our delicious fresh produce in Summerland Farm’s restaurant.

6. The original avocado trees died in the ‘80s

The avocado trees that Lionel had planted in the ‘70s died as a result of a soil fungus – what a setback! New trees were planted, and thankfully have flourished thanks to modern horticultural practices.

7. Our Gift Shop is run by long-time volunteers

Our Gift Shop is run by the dedicated Cawleys Cottage Auxiliary, a group of local volunteers who’ve been fundraising for us for over 30 years! All proceeds from the newly revamped gift shop go to Summerland Farm to continue to offer employment for people with a disability.