Our Farm Story
Owen and Noreen
Pidgeon settled with their then young family in the valley beside Spring Range
in 1982 after spending 4 years in Papua New Guinea. Loriendale is in the Hall
district, (just north of Canberra but in New South Wales). A efficient solar
passive house was constructed and plantings soon followed.
There were some attempts at finding gold up our valley at the turn of the last
century. We thought of looking for new gold. A tiny farm, for Australia
with only 33 acres and very average soil. The small flock of sheep have produced
many pets, plenty of excitement but not much income.
One most venerable neighbour, Mack Southwell, told us of the time around World
War II when a pioneer produced the most delicious apples, just up the valley.
Mack would earn 2 shillings for collecting each bag of potash (from the burning
of the trees along the valley!); potash would sweeten up the apples. One giant
Granny Smith would regularly produce 15 cases of apples. (today growers hope for
4-5 cases and in drought years we are fortunate to produce 1 case per tree).
So we began planting apple and cherry trees 19 years ago, the week after our
youngest daughter was born. And the dream began. Our son Stephen is now
married to Katrina, Rowena is married to Adam, Felicity is the big organic jam
and tomato relish producer but also works as an Occupational Therapist and
Lauren studies at University.
Also dreamed of a Canberra based southern Europe, with a large hazelnut grove.
We have still some 140 hazel trees but those planted out high on the hill have
gone the way of many plantings in this dry Australia. Still we are progressing.
Read Paul Baxter's book Growing Fruit in Australia and became very
interested in unusual varieties of apples. So began the extended plantings and
the adding to number year by year.
Three years after the commencement we had a terribly wet winter and all our
first plantings of cherry trees rotted off. A learning curve! That led to
replacement plantings of nashi pears, quinces and Chinese pears and they are
We just hope for seasons with good winter rains, no late frosts and no pesty
starlings. Canberra normally has sunny winter days and lots of sunny summer
days. Water management is vital and we are fortunate to have a good catchment
area to our south.