As the eldest son of five children, Jim Belehris was brought up from a young age on his family’s fruit properties . He left school at an early age to assist his father in running the orchards.
With an early introduction to the Sydney and Melbourne Produce Markets, Jim gained valuable knowledge in understanding and meeting customers’ requirements and building many strong and committed relationships.
His ability to go above and beyond customer expectations earnt him a great deal of respect and trust with-in the market community.
His aspiration to be able to have more control in the process of achieving the final product resulted in diversifying to almonds from fruit.
Much consideration and research was put into this decision, as a large capital outlay needed to be invested in specialised machinery and equipment to be able to maintain the orchard floor, the harvesting of the almonds and the packing and processing plant.
This however, would enable Jim to oversee all facets of the entire equation and be able to make the best decisions to every aspect.
From the early beginnings in 1996, Jim and his wife Nina's property in Cooltong, on the outskirts of Renmark, South Australia was cleared of citrus, re-developed and planted to Almond trees. With the combination of warm summers, cool winters and excellent soil and water qualities resulting in perfect conditions for growing almonds.
The future vision was to provide a superior A grade product in the market place.
As owner/manager, Jim prides himself in having complete control and overseeing the entire operation on the Orchard.
Jim personally re-developed the property, which included changing the entire irrigation infrastructure, to single handedly planting every tree on the property.
In 2000, the first crop of almonds was harvested and marketed. In the following years, production increased and so did the demand for the product. Due to the strong customer demand it was evident that more acerage was required.
In 2003, another property in close proximity to their established orchard was purchased. Again Jim found it an enjoyable challenge to re-develop, this time he had to start with clearing the land which was an old run-down dairy.
In 2005, a tree nursery was establiahsed on the property where peach seeds were planted, grown and then grafted to an almond tree. The entire property was planted that winter, which meant cold morning starts and even longer nights. All the trees had to be planted while they were still dormant.
It was a long and tiring cold winter, but looking at both properties today, they have grown to become a picture of excellence- and one that Jim, Nina and their 3 children are proud of.