Menu
News

Afternoon beers lead to new venture for Geham farmer

It's a family operation at Twin Pines with all in the Herlaar family pitching in. Standing in front of the lime tree that started it all are, from left, Hendrika, Joel, Teila, Natalie, Noah and Mark Herlaar.
It's a family operation at Twin Pines with all in the Herlaar family pitching in. Standing in front of the lime tree that started it all are, from left, Hendrika, Joel, Teila, Natalie, Noah and Mark Herlaar. Tara Miko

MARK Herlaar was sitting on his back deck after a long day's work drinking a Corona with his son Joel about four years ago.

As most Corona drinkers will attest, the brew needs lime but he was outraged at the price of the fruit.

So he planted a tree in the backyard, which flourished with little care.

Thinking he was onto something, he planted 300 more trees on his property, called Twin Pines. Then a few hundred more.

"I guess we're first-time lucky out here," he said.

"We planted one tree and never watered it or did anything to it and it just started producing fruit.

"We've still got that tree and its whole purpose is for us to see how hard we can push it before it stops producing fruit."

That was four years ago and now his 16-acre property at Geham, just north of Toowoomba off the New England Hwy, has about 4000 chemical-free trees.

He said in another three years, the sweeping property would be at full production.

"We'll build up to producing about 200 tonne of fruit by year six," he said.

Not only does Mr Herlaar now have enough lime for his beers year-round, he is also working on getting his certification with a view to becoming a major supplier for supermarkets around the state.

The Rocklea Markets on Monday were paying up to $20 a carton for the same Tahitian limes Mr Herlaar produced.

"We try not to use pesticides unless absolutely necessary," he said.

"In the last 12 months, there have only been about 12 trees out of the 4000 that I have sprayed with pesticides.

"It's mostly natural minerals that I spray over the orchard."

He hand-sprays each of the 4000 trees once a week with a mixture of natural minerals and molasses.

It's a labour of love for Mr Herlaar, who viewed the orchard as his pathway into retirement, although he doesn't like that word.

"I see this as a new venture, not as retirement," he said.

"I want to do it till I'm dead and then hopefully the family will take it over."

He is looking to get away from his role as founder and managing director of One Stop Insulation Shop and focus more on Twin Pines and the limes.

"We had this idea about five years ago but only really got started about four years ago so we're just starting to come into it," he said.

Mr Herlaar toured his farm with a Favco representative as the first yield of the trees was harvested and sorted.

"He said to me the fruits were good quality for a bloke who didn't know what he was doing," he laughed.

"Considering I nearly killed the first lot that went in, I'd say we're doing alright."

Twin Pines harvested its first crop of the original 300 trees on Monday.

Topics:  farming horticulture toowoomba