Bentley man says money does grow on trees
By HELEN JACK
MONEY does grow on trees ? just ask Jim Hartley and David Lebrocque about black bean seed collection on the Far North Coast.
"It's like picking up money," said Jim, who heads up the seed cracking and sorting operation for Ellison Horticultural at Bentley.
The seeds are usually found scattered along creek banks and are poisonous to cattle.
Farmers have traditionally destroyed the seeds to protect their livestock, until it was discovered a potted black bean tree is hot property in the European, American and Asian markets.
Good money can be had by collecting the seeds and selling them to Jim and David.
"One of our better collectors harvested 12 tonnes of seed. At $1.50 a kilo he made close to $20,000," David said.
David said he was looking to export 100 tonnes of seed, double last year's quota.
"We've been collecting black been seed on the Far North Coast since 2001," he said.
"We have two customers for black been seed; one in china and one in Holland, with most of the seed going to Holland. "Once the seed is germinated there will be a plant to sell within six to eight weeks."
Jim said they were always on the look-out for new suppliers.
"It's great for anyone with kids," he said,
"Getting out and picking them up is good fun and exercise and the kids make a fair bit of pocket money."
Jim said the seeds ranged in size from 20 to 115 grams. That means 25 seeds make a kilo. With an average of four to five seeds per pod, four or five pods are worth $1.50.
Interested? Call Jim on 6663 5323 or David on 6629 5788.