21 August, 2015. 12:01
ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
A factory farm housing more than 8,000 almond battery trees will be built in near Ipswich, west of Brisbane.
Under the controversial plans, Australia’s largest ever almond plantation will be grown in industrial-scale sheds with little access to pasture or sunshine.
The trees will be milked around the clock to produce 430,000 dairy-free coffees each year – while their leaves will be recycled to local feedlots where they will be eaten by cows.
“This is factory farming on another level,” says Mia Stickwell from flora rights group TreeGuardians.
“These trees are grown hydroponically under UV lights, it’s disgusting and it’s extremely distressing for the tree,”
“TreeGuardians are planning a protest and a blockade of the Ipswich site later this year.”
In the past, almond milk producers have gone with trees grown outside using organic methods but the rising demand for the drupe has seen the need for industrialization.
The trees, fed on nutrient-rich water, will spend most of their days inside where they will grow and be milked on a rack rather than in soil. They will be milked three times a day, while a typical almond tree is milked just twice. Waste will be removed each day and donated to a local cattle depot, where cattle from western Queensland come before they’re slaughtered.
Brett Duckworth, a farmer behind the new almond tree farm, says that the project will create jobs and boost the local economy.
“People expect their almonds to come from trees that live happy lives in the forest,” he said.
“Sadly, that’s just not possible with the rising demand for almonds. Campaigners think their almonds should come from trees that spend all day dancing around a paddock with their other tree friends,”
“They’re living in a dream world. For every new plant rights campaigner, we need to grow another two trees to satisfy their lust for almond milk.”
The Ipswich almond farmers hope to break the ground next month and milk the first tree early next year.