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The stories behind our food producers

FARMERS and producers talk about what they do to bring great food to the region.

Here's a handful of their stories. 

Anthony Rehbein.
Anthony Rehbein. Bunda Ginger

Anthony & Kate Rehbein

Hummock Produce and Bunda Ginga

Produce grown: Watermelons, potatoes, pumpkins & ginger

We are fourth generation farmers in the hummock area. There is nothing better than seeing what you produce on the table and to people who enjoy food. It's wonderful to see local cafes and restaurant owners use your product.

Realistically most of our ginger goes to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, it's only a small percent that stays locally, although this is growing all the time. Since we launched our Bunda Ginga product range, the distribution is very local, and we are growing specific commodities for local markets.

We supply to big companies such as Gourmet Garden and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks where our product ends up distributed throughout the world, main retail chains and independents up and down the Eastern Coast.

My family was traditionally cane farmers, our first foray into diversification started with rockmelons in the 80's and 90's and then moved to other commodities.

Farming is no easy story and it is challenging with many variables from weather, machinery, staff, I think you have to be a finance controller, quality assurance, WHS officer, marketer, agronomist. Farming is variable and you have to be a jack-of-all-trades.

In 2015 we launched Bunda Ginga, our own ginger brand with four amazing, 100 percent Australian grown ginger products unlike anything else on the market. Our ground, ginger bites, pickled and fresh ginger products are already finding lots of success locally stocked in Learmonth's Foodworks, Grunskes, Bargara Meats and Nana's Pantry - with some stockists in Brisbane too.

We hope that diversifying and value-adding our ginger product will make the farm and future more sustainable into the future.

Where you can find Anthony & Kate's products in the Bundaberg region:

  • On the menu at Indulge Café, 80A Bourbong St (pickled, ground, raw ginger, potatoes, pumpkins)
  • Grunskes' By the River Seafood & Takeaway, 11e Petersen St, Bundaberg East
  • Nana's Pantry, 38 Electra St, Bundaberg
  • Bargara Meats, 10 1/-5 Bauer St, Bargara
  • Some resellers at Shalom Markets on Sunday's (6am to 11am) at Fitzgerald St have raw Bunda Ginga.

Fave meal - we make ginger for sushi and we love it with blue vein cheese and that's something special, we find ourselves having another slither of ginger because it's our own and it's unique.

 

Darren Zunker.
Darren Zunker. Max Fleet

 

Linda & Darren Zunker

Windhum Farms

Produce grown: Sweet potatoes

The Zunkers' have been growing sweet potatoes across their 140 hectare property in the Hummock, Bundaberg for the past 15 years. Linda is involved in marketing and packing while Darren focuses on production issues and son Ethan has recently joined them after completing a Certificate III in Engineering.

Linda and Darren say they love producing the quality that comes from the rich Hummock soil and say it's always important to support local growers and producers for your future.

The couple bought their first farm 12 months after marrying and as expansion grew the Windhum Farm Company was born.

The Zunker families have been farming in the region since the 1870's and Linda's grandfather was one of the first farmers in the area to grow tomatoes. Darren's family has been farming mainly sugarcane, although pricing barriers and issues made the family diversify into other industries.

Darren and Linda have been recently involved in a research project which mapped crop yield against variables such as soil diversity to work out yield variables across the property which Darren says will ensure their sustainability for years to come.

 

SEAFOOD SELECTION: Chef Luke Russell holding up a serving of the Bundy Barra at Grunske's by the River. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
SEAFOOD SELECTION: Chef Luke Russell holding up a serving of the Bundy Barra at Grunske's by the River. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

 

Beryl & Paul Grunske

Grunskes by the River Seafood Market & Takeaway

Produce: Fresh seafood

If there is anything you can say about Grunskes is that it's a very locally driven and focused team and restaurant proudly providing the best, fresh seafood and a locally-driven menu in their takeaway and restaurant.

Beryl Grunske says 'We pride ourselves in local produce, we buy off the local fisherman and local trawlers, just our produce for our restaurant is locally grown as much as we possibly can, we support local business as much as we can.

We buy most of our fresh fruit and vegetables off Beemart, who source locally, lemon growers, strawberries from Tinaberries and limes. We have started a local store basically that we try to source as much local produce, selling Fig Tree Farm eggs, Bronnie's Worsterschire sauce, Bunda Ginga and lots more. We actually got lots of our new fresh fruit and vegetable suppliers at the last big farmers market (Flats Farmers Market in 2015).

We now also own our own fishing boat, so that we can work on the supply and demand and the quality of fish that we supply. She is called the "Penddarrak" - it does a lot of fishing Gladstone and locally - depending on what the catch of the day is.

The money stays in town when you support local, it keeps our own staff and other in employment, we have 49 staff, at Easter and Christmas it's nearly double that.

We have a really strong, locally trained team in our kitchen, and our new team has all completed their apprenticeship locally.

The Grunske family come from a trawling background of over 20 years and Paul has been a commercial fisherman for over 30 years so you can say fishing is definitely in the bones.

Beryl says the seafood industry and their business is unique and challenging but a lot of fun, and she is very proud to be a local business and be supporting other local businesses and fisherman.

"It's something unique to our region and something to be proud of to be able to buy direct and support the fisherman as much as they can so we can all keep going," she says.

"We love it here, I still get up everyday and love coming to work, it doesn't feel like work to me. "

Favourite way to eat seafood:

Local banana prawns and the Hervey Bay scallops, bit of butter under the grill.  

Growers and producers ready to show at the Flats Farmers Market, Bill Schouten from Hestron, Tina McPherson from Tinaberries and Anthony Rehbein from Bunda Ginga.
Growers and producers ready to show at the Flats Farmers Market, Bill Schouten from Hestron, Tina McPherson from Tinaberries and Anthony Rehbein from Bunda Ginga. Paul Beutel

Bill Schouten

Hestron Pty Ltd

Calavos, Bundaberg

Produce grown: Eggplants, tomatoes, capsicums, herbs

Bill is a maestro of hydroponic growing and will throw his very green thumb behind anything from eggplants, tomatoes, strawberries, bullhorn capsicums and herbs.

Most of what Bill grows is for commercial sale, as with many growers in the region, but following the success of the farmers market in 2015 and his regular stint at the Shalom Markets on Sunday mornings in-season, his tomatoes are exclusively grown for local distribution and yummy consumption and have built themselves a cult local following.

Bill's foray into farming started at the ripe old age of 14, when he joined his parents on their cane farm, diversifying to growing vegetables as a sideline to supplement and making the gradual shift completely over to vegetable growing.

Starting out growing in the field and moving to mainly hydroponic growing 16 years ago, the changeable and very unpredictable foes of weather such as rain, wind and storms which can wipe out high value crops - made the move indoors attractive.

Bill's daughter Jules and her husband Ben, along with River, 3, live on the farm and look after it alongside Bill so looks like the farm will be in the family hands for a while yet.

Bill loves seeing a plant achieve it's potential, growing some nice product and with supplying these things locally - you get feedback from the people who are using the product, when people come back and ask for your product and look forward to buying it, gives you a real buzz, you have achieved something. Lots of satisfaction just for domestic consumption - like our tomatoes. It's a really big buzz.

Bill says that Bundaberg is growing up a little bit, becoming a bit more sophisticated and to have grown specifically for local consumption 10 years ago would have been a disaster, generally the local population is prepared to pay a little bit more for a big higher quality.

"People are sick of factory grown tomatoes, look great, keep forever - they have no taste! People are looking for a tomato that taste like a tomato," he says and Bill's varieties certainly do.

Bill says a perfect looking eggplant has to be very dark black, or purple in colour, the stem on the top has to be nice and green, it should be a teardrop shape as it's the most popular, and of course it's got to eat well.

"My eggplant don't need salting, they don't have a bitterness problem that field grown eggplant does," Bill says.

It's a bourgeoning and growing industry, eggplant now as where capsicums and zucchinis were 30 years ago. Gradually eggplant has been growing into everyday cuisine, as people learn to eat it, it is a growing industry.

You can find Bill's eggplants, tomatoes and herbs at the following local stockists and restaurants:

  • Learmonth's Foodworks
  • Grunskes by the River Seafood & Takeaway
  • Windmill
  • Indulge Café
  • Alowishus Delicious
  • Oodies Café
  • Last Stop Convience
  • Malony's
BUNDY LIMES: Linda Vickers in her Gooburrum orchard. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
BUNDY LIMES: Linda Vickers in her Gooburrum orchard. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Linda Vickers

Bundy Limes

Produce: Tahitian Limes

Bundy Limes proudly stock lots of pubs and clubs, service stations, and local suppliers with their delightful Tahitian limes.

Linda says she loves coming out everyday to the trees to check on her crop.

"Everyone you meet is wonderful, farmers are easy to get along with, they like to share information, we haven't come across anyone we haven't liked. Everyone has been very helpful especially as we are new to the industry," she says.

Linda says limes like many other fruit and vegetables are all about presentation, good colour, no marks on the limes, and a good size.

Linda's favourite way to enjoy lime is "Lime in soda water with lots of ice, the kids make a bundy lime biscuit that we have created, my friend makes a nice lime cheesecake, and anything thai with lime is great," she says.

Bundy Limes hope in the future to expand their lime operation to continue to produce the best quality fruit for the local market and beyond.

Emilia Troani

Emilia's Pasta & Biscotti

Produce: Fresh egg pasta and biscotti

Emilia and Gino Troani are a bit of a Bundaberg institution - their fresh, egg pasta and traditional Italian biscotti are so delicious and will make you want to eat pasta everyday of the week!

Emilia and Gino started making pasta together 25 years ago, starting out a small business very slowly and building on it after Ginny retired.

"We love making pasta, it's something to do together, we have lots of friends and love to share it with them.

We don't say anything about our pasta, other people say it's the best, nearly everybody says 'we will never buy anything else again'," Emilia says.

"Amanda (at Indulge) is my friend, they are really good people. We make some coverings for their restaurant and then they work the rest of their magic to create something truly special with it. "

You can find Emilia's Pasta & biscotti at these local stockists:

  • Learmonth's Foodworks
  • Indulge Café
  • Nana's Pantry
  • Grunskes by the River Seafood & Takeaway

Brad Nixon

Nixon farms

Produce grown: Zucchini, cherry tomato and cane

Quality and freshness is best about local.

I came here 18 years ago from down south, but many generations of farming prior to that - my family goes back about 500 years in farming. Family came from England, Ireland and Scotland a long, long time ago - but they all had farms through the generations. My father, grandfather and great grandfather farmed back in Victoria. I guess from age of 12 I was going to be a farmer.

Personally I like tomatoes grilled in a pan with balsamic vinegar until the tomato is cooked. Stuffed zucchini just with onion, tomato, parmesan cheese, garlic - maybe a bit of mince meat if you have enough room for that.

We just try and do our best on everyday that we are here, it's a team effort, there are lots of people involved, good staff and if they do their best and I do my bit, hopefully we end up with a good product that people want.

Bees have to visit the male and the female flowers, the female flowers form the fruit, the male flowers are there for pollination purposes and bees have to visit both, visit the female flower several times for complete pollination and a nicely formed zucchini. We get contractors in with hives, it's essential.

If you don't have bees, there is a time of the year coming up where the macadamia trees start to flower, once they come into full flower, the bees want to leave to go to a more attractive scent and flower to make their honey. So they leave your zucchini and go to the macadamias. When that happens you can drop your production by 75%. You need 4-5km so that the bees stay with you.

YUMMY: Bianca Emerson takes advantage of Tinaberries come and pick day. Photo: Scottie Simmonds / NewsMail
YUMMY: Bianca Emerson takes advantage of Tinaberries come and pick day. Photo: Scottie Simmonds / NewsMail Scottie Simmonds BUN270812BER5

Tina McPherson

Tinaberries

Produce grown: strawberries and passionfruit

Tina and Bruce McPherson are first generation farmers of the most delectable strawberries and passionfruit you will find. They have a massive following in Melbourne and Sydney markets - but we are lucky here to have them stocked locally and at their farm gate at 15 Zunks Rd, Elliot Heads (in-season).

Tina says our strawberries are very big, very juicy and delicious, we aim for the high end of the niche market - and she is right.

"I love that you know where it comes from, you can see it growing there in the paddock, our strawberries travel well to Melbourne, but there is nothing like straight from the paddock if that applies to strawberries, then it applies to the capsicums, bananas, ginger and all of the produce around here and really there is nothing much you can't get around here," she said.

There is no family history, about 13 years ago Bruce and I decided that we needed to grow something on a cane farm that we bought here in Bundaberg and we were deliberating about what to grow and I happened upon strawberries. I decided strawberries were something that everyone, whether economic times are good or bad people will buy strawberries. People buy them for their children because they are fruit, whereas children think they are a treat, lovers buy strawberries for other lovers and people are addicted to them, people buy strawberries when they are in season, you buy strawberries because they really want to eat them.

I love eating them, they look great, people get passionate about them, I love that people get excited and really want to eat them.

Tina's favourite way to eat a Tinaberry is dip them in sour cream and then in brown sugar, many years ago our banker suggested it and generally you don't take culinary advice from your banker but he suggested it and it is to die for. It's the very best way to have them. Bruce reckons they are best eaten "nude".

Tinaberries farm gate is open during the height of strawberry season from generally first week of June to October, 7 days a week from 8:30am to 5pm. You can pick up strawberries, passionfruit and jam made from the berries and passionfruit butter at the farm gate. Check tinaberries.com.au for further updates. Pick your own from the patch begins usually mid-August, but check with the farm.

Tinaberries are available locally at the following restaurants and stockists:

  • Indulge Café
  • Learmonths Foodworks
  • Grunskes by the River

 

Rick Elliott

The Chop Shop

Produce: Speciality smoked smallgoods and other meats 

Rick and his team at The Chop Shop have built themselves a reputation for the most delicious smoked smallgoods, ham, bacon and chicken. When you pop in ask for a duck ham - you won't be disappointed.

Sourcing their beef and pork from the North Burnett region mostly, Rick says the consistency of local produce is really important and keeps it in the circle, our relationship with our suppliers has existed for over 20 years and that means we consistently deliver great product.

Rick has been in the butcher since 1989 give or take a few RDO's and after a short time away, he is now the boss-man.

Rick says butchering is in the blood mate, there was never anything else. It's all made with love.

Robertson Flower Farm.
Robertson Flower Farm. Mike Knott

Trish & Adam Robertson

Robertson Flower Farm

From the fertile volcanic fields in Tasmania to the fertile volcanic soil of the Hummock, Trish and Adam Robertson are flower aficionados with over 15 years of perfecting their bulbs and blooms on Bargara Road.

"We came from Tasmania, plonked ourselves in the middle of a cane field and started growing flowers, everyone thought we were crazy," Adam says.

Adam started out in the farming game in Tasmania, diversifying his families diary-farming heritage into the flower industry and the move to Queensland was chasing the sun so to speak and unlike many other farmers in the region, they are first generation.

They started out growing iris and other Orientals, but now the Robertson flower family consists of Sunflowers, Lilium (Lily's), Gladiolus (Glady's) and a small amount of cockscomb, although only for Mothers Day Trish adds.

The actual Robertson family is Trish and Adam (married for 18 years) with three sons (name), 9, (name), 11, and (name), 12.

Adam says his favourite thing about farming is the dirt and the tractors and miracle of watching and tending something to grow, and that the Bundaberg region winter lends itself to pretty good growing conditions most of the time.

Robertson Flowers can be found in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth markets, florists across the country and locally in Chippendalls, Learmonth's Foodworks and other select local florists.

There is a flower farm gate every Friday kicking off just after the Easter weekend via their farm gate at 451 Bargara Road, open 8:00am to 5:30pm with eftpos available. Check the Robertson Flower Farm facebook for updates and announcements - facebook.com/robertsonflowerfarm 

Bronwyn and Mark Welbeloved.
Bronwyn and Mark Welbeloved. Paul Braven

Bronwyn Welbeloved

Bronnies Gourmet Foods

Products: Well Loved Worcestershire Sauce

An old family recipe handed down through generations from Bronwyn's grandmother is what got this locally-famous Worcestershire Sauce its reputation.

Using the perfect, velvety mix of spicy ingredients with plum jam as the basis, Well Loved Worcestershire Sauce is a must-have for the pantry. Perfect on eggs, with mushrooms and steak it's an absolutely delicious condiment made in Gin Gin, just outside of Bundaberg.

Bronwyn said she didn't ever think there was a market for the sauce as it's so expensive to make, but her sister-chef took her aside and told her people will pay if it's as good as it promises to be.

Bronnie reckons the secret behind the sauce is keeping every cook as an individual, limited batch no more than 25 Liters at a time, this keeps the sauces authentic and rich flavour profile.

She hopes that when she is ready to give up the craft, her now nine-year old niece will take the Well Loved mantle over, but for now her sister-in-law in Cairns is also spreading a name for the sauce in Queensland - making the same sauce in limited batches there.

Well Loved Worcestershire Sauce can be bought at Grunskes, Nana's Pantry, Gin Gin Produce Butcher, Last Stop Convenience, Bundy Hot Gas, The Red Shed, Barritts Butchers and is on the menu at the Windmill, Bargara.

You will also find Bronnie and Mark at many of the local markets such as Shalom Sunday Markets, Apple Tree Creek, Wild Scotchman Country Markets and more.  

BEAUTFUL BEES: Bundaberg bee keeper Ian Finnis helps out farmers across the region by relocating bees. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
BEAUTFUL BEES: Bundaberg bee keeper Ian Finnis helps out farmers across the region by relocating bees. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Ian Finnis

Beez Kneez Honey

McCarthy St, Bundaberg

Products: Beez Kneez Macadamia Honey

A love of bees that developed from being stung by them? Seems like Ian and his bees got off to a funny start, but it was a love affair that will last a lifetime.

As a small boy, Ian would watch a neighbor up the road (on McCarthy St, where he still resides today) with their hives and he knew he always wanted bees and what grew from a small hobby into now something that keeps him very busy in retirement.

A paramedic for 47 years, Ian said he did bees in his spare time, and being born and bred on the property on McCarthy St, he has a well-established farm gate stop off for any delicious honey-seekers (look out for the bee crafted by local artist John Olsen, made from beer kegs).

Ian only likes his bees to produce the most raw, pure, bush honey so therefore has his hives anywhere from Bundaberg to Kilcoy where there is limited pollentation, it's important to the taste of the honey to avoid the sprays that might be present to only get the good stuff.

A tip on robbing hives: Ian reckons don't wear too much clothing as when you sweat the bees smell that and get anxious, he prefers to operate in shorts and shirt and try not to 'bang around too much' to avoid too many stings. Ian also cold extracts his honey so not to upset the bees.

Ian says that honey is pure food, product of the earth and the sun you can't beat it. I probably eat between 1-3kg a week, it's such a good energy food.

Beez Kneez honey gets cold extracted from the hive (which means no use of steam), transferred into settling tanks, where the wax, bits of wings and legs rise to the top. All organic matter is scraped off the top then bottled. Pure and simple.

You can find Ian at the Shalom Markets, Childers or Howard markets and his honey can be purchased from McCarthy St - look out for the bee!

 

HAPPY SHOPPERS: Meg and Dave Galati from Rosengal serve customers Karen Standish and John Schultz from the Barossa valley at The Flats Farmers Market on Saturday morning at Kendalls Flat. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
HAPPY SHOPPERS: Meg and Dave Galati from Rosengal serve customers Karen Standish and John Schultz from the Barossa valley at The Flats Farmers Market on Saturday morning at Kendalls Flat. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

 

Dave & Meg Galati

Rosengal

Produce: Green beans, flat beans, butter beans, borlotti beans & limited peas

The Galati families foray into farming and bean production all started with Christmas. It was hard to source fresh, local beans and Dave's dad took it upon himself to find and sell them to families who were planning family feasts at home. He made more money in that two weeks than he had made in six months in their family-run café in Bairnsdale, Melbourne and he thought he was onto a winner.

"He got the beans, made some money, the rest is history. He got the bug.," Dave Galati said. The Rosengal bean brand, which has a permanent fixture at Melbourne wholesale markets and Dave and his wife Meg Galati run the Bundaberg arm to ensure year-round supply of green, yellow, flat, borlotti beans and peas.

The farming game, as Dave describes it is a bit like 'chasing that big win' like his Dad found in the early days, but it's also first and foremost about taste to Dave and being in tune with what you are growing, its environment and being proactive.

Dave's top tips to growing good beans is to first and foremost play them dance music (he lists David Guetta as a favourite), keep your soil healthy and be in love with your product and predict and respond to its environmental changes.

"It's like raising a child, you are so in tune with what is happening that you feel every step of the way - you have to think like the crop you are growing," he said.

With an Italian family history that runs deep and is at the forefront of the Rosengal family bean-business, the Galati family have been a long-standing tradition at the Melbourne wholesale markets and have been for two generations now.

Dave says ultimately all of his farming efforts come down to taste, and a taste perfectionist he is, providing the most delicious, crisp, juicy and delectable beans and peas.

You can get Rosengal beans from these local stockists:

  • Indulge café (on the menu)
  • Learmonth's Foodworks
  • Beemart
  • Shalom Markets (make sure you ask whether they are Rosengal)
Pecan nut producer Boyd Johnson displays young nuts in his orchard outside of Monto. Photo Ren Lanzon/The Observer
Pecan nut producer Boyd Johnson displays young nuts in his orchard outside of Monto. Photo Ren Lanzon/The Observer

Michelle Chicken & Boyd Paton

Boyne River Pecans

Mundubbera

Products: Pecan nuts

Traditionally from a cattle-farming background which spans four generations, pecans were growing next door and when the farm came up for sale Michelle's mum thought it was a good investment to expand and diversify.

Growing a near completely chemical free crop due to the position and health of the plants and nuts on the farm, Michelle said there is a huge future in the nut industry as it's an alternative protein source and its an industry that's growing.

The pecan industry is in it's infancy in Australia with majority of growers based in NSW or USA so we are very lucky to have three pecan nut growers in the North Burnett, which includes the Chicken/Paton family.

With majority of the crop going to a third party in Toowoomba that brands under Riverside Pecans (available in the majority of major supermarket chains), Boyne River pecans are available via farm gate on Mundubbera Durong Rd and from some limited local stockists.

A pecan tree takes up to 18 years to fully mature and the trees have a long life span, some in NSW are 50 to 60 years old and in the states there are trees recorded at over 100 years old so these beauties that stretch up into the sky are around for a long time to come.

Harvesting starts in mid-April and can go through until June depending on the size of the crop, so winter is pecan perfection in the Burnett.

Rohan and Fiona Morris

Gleneden Organic Farm

Gleneden via Gayndah

Products: Beef, pork, chicken, lamb, tours, demonstrations, overnight farm stays and vegetables

A farm that has been in the Morris family for over a century, an absolute dedication to the land, it's revitalisation through a mixed farm landscape and celebrating the biodiversity of the land which delivers our lifesource is what drives Rohan and Fiona Moirris at their organic farm in the Gleneden Valley.

"Recognising the value in native plants and animals, above and below the soil. This has enormous flow on effects, healthy living soil results in healthy plants and animals, any positive we can get is ampflied for us as the eventual creature that eats what this soil has produced or the beast that has fed off the landscape," Rohan said.

It also creates a wonderfully, full bodied tasting food that is nourishing in all respects. Rohan says the meat from the Wessex saddle back pigs is so spectacular as it's old breed, slow-grown, organicially fed and truly free-range pasture-fed. They are processed into fresh cuts and are traditionally woodsmoked nitrate-free ham and bacon.

There is a strong desire by Rohan to bring people back to a landscape which once housed over 100 people from 12 families but now is only home to less than 12, although he knows the farming and agricultural industry is a difficult one to make a dollar out of.

Rohan and Fiona moved together to the farm as they wanted a good place for their young family to grow up and eat high quality food that we couldn't affort to buy - we came here to grow and eat it. It's a wonderful place for Eden (6) and Jethro (3) to hopefully take on one day.

"We are trying to build our farm up to support two incomes, one for us now and one for our children for the future. We would love nothing less than for our two children to be able to derive and live off the land," Rohan says.

 

OFF ROAD ACCESS: Mortimer's Farm owner Shana Mortimer has relocated her sweet potato stall on directive of the Department of Transport and Main Roads. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
OFF ROAD ACCESS: Mortimer's Farm owner Shana Mortimer has relocated her sweet potato stall on directive of the Department of Transport and Main Roads. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

 

Sharna and Russell Mortimer

Mortimer's Sweet Potatoes

537 Bargara Road, Bundaberg

Products: Sweet potatoes

With sweet potato growing into a family staple, like it's potato forbearers, the Bundaberg region supplies nearly 90 percent of Australia's sweet potatoes and the Mortimer family farm is one of those nourishing the nation.

Sharna along with her husband Russell run Mortimers sweet potatoes on Bargara Road and have been doing so for 16 years and with crops in the ground year-round it's a 24/7 operation.

Sweet potatoes take 7 months to reach maturity and Russell says sometimes you don't know what the crop is like until you have dug it up.

Prime planting begins in late August and then is dug out of the ground between February and March and summer crops are planted in September and picked in January.

Russell and Sharna say the farming lifestyle, although demanding, does have it's flexibility and they love the meaningful work they are doing to help feed the nation that is of real value to society.

You can buy Mortimers sweet potatoes direct from their purpose-built farm gate at 537 Bargara Road, $2 a bag.

CUT ABOVE: Tender Sprouted Meats co-owner Shane Simpson. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
CUT ABOVE: Tender Sprouted Meats co-owner Shane Simpson. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

Rob and Sarah Cook

Rosa Cattle Company/ Tender Sprouted Meats

55 Watson's St, Bundaberg

Products: beef and lamb 

Visiting Rob and Sarah Cooks's farm in South Kolan, just outside of Bundaberg - you get to meet some very happy cattle who are born on grass, feasting on grass and finished on improved pasture with barley sprouted grain.

Their ethos truly encompasses a true paddock to plate experience and their cattle are very happy and very well fed and finishing them exclusively on sprouts differentiates the meat from any other feed lot.

These animals are raised on the land, butchered not too far down the road and then sold in their shop - Tender Sprouted Meats in Bundaberg.

Specialising in a 21-day dry-aged t-bone that is fast gathering a name for itself, the running of the farm and shop isn't the only thing on the families packed daily schedule.

Rob was involved in a gyrocopter crash on their previous property in the Northern Territory in 2008 which left him paralyzed so now everyday the family start out at 6am with a rigorous physio regime to get stretched and dressed ready for the days' farm work before getting their two boys Lawson and Braxton off to the bus to school.

A joystick on Rob's modified wheel chair enables him to take a very active role on the farm, opening and closing gates and being able to muster with his wife Sarah and he has such drive and vision for his farm and his family.

What just three years ago was an organic aloe vera farm in South Kolan, is now home to nearly 800 head of black-angus cattle run by Rob and Sarah Cook and he said he isn't finished yet - watch this space! 

FIG DESSERT: Sara Rogers, Matt Rogers and Sue Wilkens talk to Will Randall from Lava Valley Produce at The Flats Farmers Market. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
FIG DESSERT: Sara Rogers, Matt Rogers and Sue Wilkens talk to Will Randall from Lava Valley Produce at The Flats Farmers Market. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Mike, Will & Jess Randall

Lava Valley Produce

Produce grown: figs and avocadoes

Traditionally peanut farmers from the North Burnett, the Randall family are fourth generation farmers on this land with the soil running through their veins. Seeking out better use of their land and more stability in crop was a natural, but gradual progression with avocados and figs their main crops today.

Lava Valley Produce also has a range of gourmet products including fig jam, syrup and dried figs all which are earning themselves a cult following and were a result of diversification to utilise perfect eating fruit and supplement income at times when market volatility predicts otherwise.

Mike Randall says challenge and reward goes hand in hand with farming and like many other farmers their success often lies in the hands of the weather, but he says when people give feedback about how much they enjoyed the produce it makes it all worthwhile.

Lava Valley produce can be found in avocado season at their roadside stall off the high way at Ban Ban Springs and at selected fruit shops in Sydney and Melbourne, and from these local stockists in Queensland:

  • Nanas Pantry Bundaberg / Hervey Bay
  • Dusty Hills vineyard Moffate Dale
  • Taste South Burnett
  • Kenilworth Cheeses
  • Petals and Print Bundaberg
  • Online at www.lavavalleyproduce.com.au
PROMOTION NIGHT: Duncan Littler, Bree Grima, Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett and Deane Flett at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
PROMOTION NIGHT: Duncan Littler, Bree Grima, Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett and Deane Flett at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Kev & Carrie Grima

KCS Fresh

735 Moore Park Road, Bundaberg

Products: Spaghetti squash, kombucha pumpkins, sweet potato, herbs, spinach, passionfruit, lettuce and rocket mix

Third generation farmer Kev and his wife Carrie Grima grow a large variety of amazing herbs, lettuce, rocket, spaghetti squash, sweet potato and passionfruit on their property on Moore Park Road.

With four kids under 10, they both say that they hope growing up on a farm their kids understand where, how, why and how hard farmers work to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for current and future generations.

KCS Fresh supply and grow for bigger brands such as Perfection Fresh, Lowfarm and supply a middle man who onsells to large grocery chains.

We are lucky in the Bundaberg region to be able to access their very fresh herbs, salad mix and vegetables via their farm gate on Moore Park Road and also at these local points:

  • Beemart
  • Getaway (Agnes Waters)
  • Some selected local resturants
  • Young Aussie hotel
BUSY PICKING: Abbotsleigh Citrus owner Michael McMahon is right in the middle of the busiest time of the year for picking mandarins. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
BUSY PICKING: Abbotsleigh Citrus owner Michael McMahon is right in the middle of the busiest time of the year for picking mandarins. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

Michael McMahon

Abottsleigh Citrus

251 Grahams Rd, Wallaville

Products: Blueberries, lemons (January to June), Imperial (April to May), Murcott (July through September) & Hickson (June through July) mandarins

Co-owned by the Campbell and McMahon families since 2003, Abbotsleigh Citrus are more than just citrus, they diversified in 2001 with 20 hectares of blueberries planted on their Wallaville property just outside of Gin Gin.

They work with growers across the Central North Burnett to package, market and freight citrus throughout a long and varied season.     

Topics:  farmers producers


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