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Organic farmers growing great gains in niche market

Darrin and Kylie Pateman run Homegrown Health, an organic farm, in Cabarlah.
Darrin and Kylie Pateman run Homegrown Health, an organic farm, in Cabarlah. Bev Lacey

IT'S fair to say Darrin and Kylie Pateman have been one step ahead of the foodies for about a decade.

Before kale was the veggie in vogue and organically produced foods in strong demand, the Patemans were growing great gains, from their four-hectare farm at Cabarlah.

They run Homegrown Health and have recently added a fresh juice van to their string of successes - it has become a regular sight at markets around the Darling Downs.

Even now the farming pair - with the help of their daughters Sam, Katie and Allie - have kept ahead of the trend and managed to bring bright dragon fruit to market in Toowoomba.

Their land was originally an avocado orchard, which the Patemans worked to transform into a productive and chemical-free operation.

"I always loved working in the garden and being outdoors, so it was a bit of a rundown old farm that we brought back to life," Darrin said.

"We brought our first crop of avocados to the local PCYC markets about seven years ago.

"Back then, we didn't know much about organics but we were growing chemical-free."

It was that tag on their produce that captured a then-untapped market.

"We realised there was such a demand for organics about seven years ago and then customers were asking for more and more produce," Kylie said.

"Darrin already had our produce growing on the farm and then we just started expanding and growing more of the produce that we had for ourselves."

It was when there was too much produce to clear at markets that the Patemans went from chemical-free to certified organic branding.

They now produce avocados, figs, different guavas, dragon fruit and finger limes.

"We like to stick to a few different things from what is readily available," Darrin said.

"We also have about two or three acres of market gardens and greens but our market gardens just aren't happening at the moment, so I'm just focusing on keeping our trees alive.

"We've got a young pomegranate orchard that's coming on, as well."

Catch them at markets around Toowoomba on weekends or visit homegrownhealth.com.au.

Topics:  drought farmers foodies organic