first almond pick-up machine. The visit also provided an opportunity to build relationships with the University of California extension service and in particular Don Rough.
In 1975, Don Rough visited Australia for a three month sabbatical. This and two subsequent visits from Don, followed by other extension
officers, have led to a great two way flow of information between California and Australia. Following the visit to California, Eric became
had been developing since his first visit to California in 1961. Eric was Chairman of Lindsay Point Almonds from 1972 to 1982 and also Chairman of Lindsay Point Hulling Syndicate, the hulling and shelling facility that subsequently grew and transformed into Laragon. In parallel with his deep involvement in the development of production technology and systems, Eric maintained a strong interest in marketing and as a result, joined the board of management of Co-operative Almond Producers Ltd in 1954 and became chairman in 1957, a position he held for 25 years. Eric believed strongly in stable marketing and grower unity. For thirty years he worked to try to achieve these goals and expand the Australian industry. These extraordinary achievements were publicly acknowledged in the Queen’s Honours List of 1982 and subsequently he was awarded an MBE. Probably the most apt description of Eric’s involvement with the almond industry is to say that it was one of his passions in life - one to which he devoted great energy and thought.
involved with the Greenways Irrigation Scheme in 1962 and in 1963 planted almonds at Nildottie. This was the first attempt to use Californian methods for irrigated production of almonds in Australia. This was in many ways a watershed development for the Australian industry. It demonstrated the potential of the new
Eric Lacey came to the industry in the early days of its move to the Willunga region. In 1945, Eric and wife Barbara planted 40 acres, ‘The Home Block’. This planting consisted of mainly the Australian varieties Chellaston and Johnston, plus Nonpareil and some hardshell called Biggs which avoided weevils prior to the availability of fumigation.
technology and provided other growers with the confidence to expand along the River Murray to take advantage of it. In 1969, Eric was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to research further the industries in both California and Europe, particularly Spain. That study trip provided an opportunity to investigate aspects of nutrition, better pollination, the latest U.S. and Spanish varieties, harvesting machinery and processing and blanching equipment. Some
of this equipment was imported and later made under licence in Australia. Following his trip to California and Europe, Eric was keen to find a large property and develop an almond project that was more productive even than the Nildottie property. The result of this was Lindsay Point Almonds. Indeed, Lindsay Point was the fulfilment of a vision Eric
By the end of the 1960s, Eric had expanded the plantings at Willunga to around 90 acres. However, by that time his great interest was in irrigated production and the potential of large scale mechanised farming systems. He and Barbara visited California in 1961 to investigate current research and irrigation practices, pollination, mechanical harvesting and large-scale plantings. They stayed in Chico where they met many growers, including Herman Fortier, who helped invent the
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