Farmers open gate to sell direct

Even before Queensland’s Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Rural Communities, Mark Furner, sent out his media release the day before Valentine’s Day appealing to people to show their love for local producers when buying their flowers, or eat treats, for that special day, farmers in the state’s south east were already doing it for themselves.

Almost two weeks before, a collective of producers hosted their own market day on a farm in rural Allenview, less than an hour from Logan Central, in a bid to bring customers direct to their door.

The first Towri Growers Market was held at Towri Sheep Cheeses, home to mother and daughter Carolyn and Dallas Davidson, and neighbours including Tommerup’s Dairy Farm and Valley Pride Produce came to the table with produce fresh from their own farms. There was honey from the paddock over the fence, wines from a bit further afield at Barney Creek Vineyard and signature rosella jam from Mount Alford, while chefs from Embers Wood Fire Dining (all alumni from the Homage kitchen at Spicers Hidden Vale) cooked up hogget ‘subs’ on the grill. Refreshments on the day also included ice cream made by the folk from Tommerup’s Dairy and more.

According to Dallas Davidson, the response was beyond their expectations, especially since the area was inundated with rain yet again just days before the market was to take place. The event, which will continue to be held on the first Saturday of each month, had been months in the planning as a way to offset the challenges producers in the region have been facing in recent months and will face in the year to come.

“Following the Christmas Day tornado on Tamborine Mountain and the recent flooding, it is even more important for people to support the growers and producers of the region,” Ms Davidson said.

“Our producer community is resilient, we’ve lived through fire, floods, drought, Covid, and now a tornado, but more than ever we need the support of people in the region to see what’s going on and come straight to the farm for their produce, to get to know us, to share our stories and become our extended family.

“We are less than an hour from Logan, but the trip means the world to us, and it’s a better experience than walking up and down the aisle of a grocery store. There’s sheep milking demonstrations, loads of sheep pats, lawn games, wine tasting and more, and fur babies are welcome!” she said.

There’s no doubt that local farmers have been doing it tough recently but it’s not only Mother Nature that has been wreaking havoc on the region. Ms Davidson said the closure of the nearby abattoir just before Christmas had been another big blow to the community with small meat producers going out of business overnight.

“Small producers can’t afford to send truckloads of stock to bigger abattoirs when they don’t have large quantities, so that has cut out a lot of farming families. A lot of farmers don’t know what we’re going to do now. It has a knock-on affect as it also affects local butchers, it affects chefs who want to use local meat and now they can’t get their hands on it and instead have to bring meat in from further away,” she said.

GROWERS ARE STARTING TO RECOVER

Tamborine Mountain has also faced devastation by the storm at Christmas time but the produce supply is getting back to normal at the local markets, according to vice president of the local Show Society Bruce Pattinson.

“People lost entire crops and had no power for two weeks and some are still struggling, particularly growers of leafy greens and flowers. Anything above ground was trashed but the produce is now starting to come back, the growers are starting to recover because it has been a month now and it takes time for things to grow, but things are getting pretty much back to normal,” Pattinson said.

And they are happy see customers coming back.

“They are always happy to welcome people. It’s like a community, people get to know the growers, the growers know the customers and everyone likes to talk to each other. Shoppers have found their produce is fair value and they like to know where their food comes from, and especially like meeting the growers who come from the mountain and the Scenic Rim,” he said.

At the Tamborine Mountain Showgrounds the Green Shed Market sells exclusively organic produce every Sunday morning, including everything from the basics from potatoes and tomatoes to exotic fruits such as special varieties rare apples, different sorts of radishes and chillies, and more.

The Country Markets are on at the showgrounds on the second Sunday of the month and it, too, offers seasonally fresh produce.

Meanwhile the farmers that took part in the Towri Growers Market at Allenview will be back again next month, encouraged by the overwhelming response they received at their inaugural market day.

“What keeps us going is when we see city kids running around the garden being kids, and there’s the education side to it too, teaching people you can milk sheep, for example. We just love watching people have a good time on our farm,” Dallas Davidson said.

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