Wahrina pistachio tree
In a soft, sweet nutshell

Time and time again while researching the origins of the world’s favourite tree crops I find myself back in the temperate montane forests of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan ranges.

It’s in these three under-appreciated Central Asian countries that a ridiculous number of globally important fruits and nuts evolved – we’re talking apples, pears, apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, pomegranates, grapes figs, almonds and walnuts.

Scientists speculate that the eruption-prone Tian Shan mountains favoured shorter-lived tree species with seeds palatable to large mammals, who, during quakes and tremors, would run away to new safe areas where they would spread apple, peach or plum seeds.

And so of course when I went looking into the earliest evidence of human pistachio consumption, where do I find myself?  You guessed it, Djarkutan, Uzbekistan about 9000 years ago.

Now given our similar climate Australia has been surprisingly late on the pistachio scene; in the 1970’s the CSIRO trialled pistachio growing in the Goulburn Valley.

This trial would prove critical for Jenny O’Dea and her family in nearby Wahring, who were looking for alternatives to sheep farming during the Millennium drought.

In 2004 Jenny, her husband, David, brother Shane, his wife, Anne, and their father, Bernie took a leap of faith and planted 2000 pistachio trees. 

People said their trees wouldn’t fruit because Wahrina Farm was too far South. The O’Dea’s pistachios however, turned out to be very hardy.  Right through the frosty winter mornings, the 46C days and the endless drought their pistachios flourished.

Jenny O’Dea, Wahrina Pistachios

It took ten years until the pistachios were ready to harvest but every autumn since Shane O’Dea has been delivering a few boxes of his precious fresh fresh pistachios to the Fair Food warehouse.

In this time there have been some hard years with hail storms and very wet summers ruining or reducing the crop.

In 2023 an off-year, numbers were already reduced  (pistachios are biennial, bearing heavily one year and taking the following year off ) but it was the appalling summer weather that pretty much spoiled the harvest completely.

This year though, the O’Dea’s twentieth, is when pistachios tree reach their peak and with the stable March weather things are looking up.

Fair Food has been lucky to be one of the only places, apart from the O’Dea’s farmers market stand and the annual Chaharshanbeh Suri (Persian Fire Festival),  where you will find fresh pistachios.

The season is short – one to two weeks, but the good news is we have lots of fresh unsalted and unroasted pistachios to share with you  (the O’Dea’s reckon unsalted means you can taste the natural flavour preserved by their slow drying).

You can find them here  and also in our Medium, Large Fruit nd Veg Boxes, Curious Cooks Box and Fruit Only Box – don’t miss out. 

Have a great week


Fresh pink pistachios in their shell


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