Phil Dening

Phil and Jane Dening arrived in Tasmania in 1986 for a two-year break from a hectic work life in Sydney. Both wanted a fresh look at life and had agriculture in mind. Jane had studied agriculture in 1985 and it seemed the natural thing to take on. Enamoured with the Coal River Valley and its lifestyle, they decided to remain in Tasmania.

Together they ventured into contract growing of walnuts before branching out on their own independent operation. They developed the business to fill a niche market by introducing Franquette and Chandler grafted varieties of walnuts. These grow in the deep alluvial soils on their property on the banks of the Coal River. Phil and Jane practice sustainable agriculture, using only organic fertilisers and management practices that enhance the integrity and biodiversity of their soils. Orchard waste is recycled creating compost and, coupled with composted tea, is irrigated on to the orchard, enriching the soil and making ideal growing conditions. In aiming for a niche market, special walnut-cracking equipment has been introduced enabling quality walnut kernels to be sold in value-added packs. Pickled walnuts and whole walnuts are other products that are proving very popular at local and interstate markets.

In 2010, Phil was instrumental in assisting the Association obtaining a $250,000 grant to deal with farmers’ response to climate change. Considerable research and training was subsequently undertaken by the universities of Tasmania and Southern Queensland focusing on the ramifications of climate change.

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