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Pomegranate grower ‘truly local’

Gareth ThomasAlbany Advertiser

The Nationals’ candidate for Albany Robbie Sutton is experiencing something of a renaissance later in life as he ventures into the unexpected to take on surprising new challenges in life, business and politics.

Mr Sutton, 61, was born and raised in Albany and is quick to point out he is the only candidate of the three front-running candidates who is “truly local”.

As the candidate representing the Nationals in Albany, it is no shock to learn Sutton tends to land, but it is what he is producing on his 100 acres that is a little left of centre.

With his partner, Mr Sutton has transformed their property into a burgeoning pomegranate orchard, a fruit he came across during his partner’s cancer battle.

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“A niece brought a pomegranate around and said they were really good for you and that my partner should be eating them once she was through with her cancer treatment,” he said.

“I’d seen them at the shops before but never really paid much attention to them but when I went to buy some, I found they were all imported from the US.

“That sowed the seed, so to speak, I went back home and researched their growing conditions and what was available in Australia.”

The first batch of 25 trees went in two-and-a-half years ago and so began Sutton’s new life as an orchardist.

“It’s given me a new lease on life,” he said.

“I’ve been born again as a man of the land.”

The Sutton property now has about 2300 trees.

For many aspiring politicians, there are several familiar and well-trodden pathways into State politics, and while Mr Sutton has become more accustomed to the scene during his second tilt at the seat of Albany, he said politics was not something he ever thought he would have become involved with, even just a few short years ago.

“Politics could not have been further from my mind until about seven years ago,” he said.

A decision made by the Albany City Council, which Mr Sutton did not think was in the best interests of the city, sparked his interest and he quickly made the decision to run in local elections.

Behind both of Mr Sutton’s later in life ventures — both the pomegranates and the politics — is a drive to give back to the community in which he has lived all his life.

“The good thing about the pomegranates is you are helping people because they are so healthy, and it’s the same with Albany — there is so much potential here and I just want to see the place flourish,” Mr Sutton said.

“The act of giving, to me, is far better than receiving.”

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