"For as long as he can remember, Daniel Nicoletti has been eating his mother Iole’s apple and spice cake.
“It’s best warm out of the oven but it’s also nice cold,” he said.
While the Nicoletti family enjoys the treat made with apples grown on their own orchard, the cake will be a hit with families everywhere when made with quality Aussie apples.
Daniel grew up on the orchard established by his grandfather Guido in 1950 at Stanthorpe, 225km south-west of Brisbane.
“My parents were always busy with the farm. I grew up here with my four sisters, and more recently with my younger brother. I have memories of playing and running around the orchard and going on tractors with my grandparents,” he said.
When he left school, Daniel worked as a carpenter for some years while still helping on the orchard during his apprenticeship.
After having had the opportunity to “try something different”, he opted to join the business full-time 15 years ago.
“I guess I always had a love and passion for fruit,” he said. “It was in my blood."
“My wife and I live on the farm and our house is surrounded by apple trees."
“To grow a really good quality apple, you need a lot of time and you need to be watching it closely. Living on the orchard makes that easier.”
The 40 hectare orchard produces Royal Gala, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, Pink Lady™ and Sundowner™ apples. The family also grows cherries, peaches and plums.
Daniel believes loyalty to quality Australian produce will prevent imported apples from gaining a strong foothold in the local market.
“If cheaper products are available it does put pressure on our good quality fruit, but deep down I think Australians would rather buy locally grown food,” he said.
Along with the Granite Belt soil at Stanthorpe, like other growers Daniel also has to deal with animal pests, cost pressures and the increasing demand of administrative work.
“But one of our biggest problems is water security,” he said. “The government authorities are restricting us more and more with how much water we can use to grow our apple crop.”
Looking to the future, Daniel says the family business will continue to respond to change, particularly if new varieties become available.
“If there is popularity among consumers with a new variety of apple we will be happy to grow it, that’s the name of our game,” he said.