Australian Almond Industry Hall of Fame Inductees 2011
Johnson and two of their own varieties selected for yield and nut quality. While the Parkinson’s Willunga property varied in soil type from very stony to poorly drained, the trees produced some good crops despite the fact they were not irrigated. It wasn’t until 1977 that a bore was put down to a depth of 120m, that the trees were first irrigated.
Along with other growers in the early years, the orchard floor was cultivated regularly, but when harvest machinery came into the picture and weedicide became available, management of the orchard floor changed to a slashing and weed spraying regime. In the early days, the crop was harvested by rubber mallets and long sticks, and the nuts were knocked down onto canvas sheets beneath the tree. Two men dragged the sheets and tipped the contents into a trailer and when a load was collected, it was taken
lime light. All good committees require active and willing members, and it is this support that John consistently provided. In 1953 John joined the Almond Cooperative and became a committee member assisting the reforming of the Cooperative in 1957, when Eric Lacey became Chairman. John served on the committee for over 30 years until 1986, preparatory to the forming of Almondco. John was also very active at regional level, serving on the committees of both the Willunga Basin Almond Growers’ Association and the Southern Group of Almondco for many years. His ongoing support was instrumental in making these organisations the important and cohesive groups they were, doing much to raise the profile of the almond industry in Willunga. Well known for his genial personality and sharp sense of humour, John is well regarded as one of the industry’s ‘characters’.
Born in 1922, John Parkinson was involved with almonds from an early age when he assisted his father, Geoffrey, plant the first almond orchard at Warradale in 1936. After serving in the RAAF for six years, John married Celine in 1947 and soon after established an almond orchard at Dover Gardens. However, John’s
back to the shed for drying. This was done by spreading the nuts onto sheets on the ground. If the weather was damp, the nuts were spread out on drying racks. The family replaced the trailer with a bigger almond boat which was made from the base of an old caravan. The Parkinson’s were always inventing new equipment to make the job easier and the original almond boat was later replaced with a steel one. In later
years when harvest was mechanised, the family invested in a F.M.C Shaker.
expansion plans were frustrated when the Housing Trust purchased that land, and they looked for a new property at Willunga, purchasing 20 acres and later another 10 acres. These blocks had previously been planted to almonds, so the trees were mature and bearing. The varieties in the original planting were Chellastons, Johnson Prolific, White Brandis and Biggs hardshell, however when it came to replanting the orchard, the Parkinsons planted Somerton,
John was involved in his 50th almond harvest in 2002 and was active in the orchard well into retirement, continuing to take an active interest in the family property, managed by son, Tim. He was always industry minded, quietly contributing time and effort over the years, although often avoiding the
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