Food Connect Subscriber Bronwen Irimichi describes our first farm tour for 2011. The South Burnett region proved to be wonderful for a scenic drive and farm visits for around 50 subscribers and their families. Thanks Bron for your words and Tim Auld for the photos!
After an early start from Brisbane and a road trip through Gympie and a little to the west, we arrived at Rawganix farm run by Cris and Lee-Anne Geri, just past the pretty country town of Tansey.
Farmers Lee-Anne and Cris welcomed us with delicious pumpkin scones with jam and cream and an introduction on their organic farming methods before showing us around their property. First stop was to see and hold the newborn chicks who will be responsible for the next generation of fresh eggs for Food Connect. We then boarded the hay bale-laden tractors for a bumpy ride down the paddocks to see the 600+ laying hens.
As we approached the field where the hens roam free they bounded up to us in their very comical way to greet us with much loud bokking and clucking. These were very happy and healthy girls who collectively lay up to 600 eggs per day which are then manually collected by Lee-Anne and Cris. Those of you who purchase eggs through Food Connect should celebrate Lee-Anne and Cris’ hard work and chook liberty every time you crack one open.
Lee-Anne and Cris said that despite their efforts to get willing workers, their biggest challenge is not having enough hands to get the projects that they have planned for their organic farm started. Thank you Lee-Anne and Cris for sharing your beautiful farm with us, keep up all your good work.
By one o’clock we were on the road again, heading south through open forests and rolling green hills to the Red Fox Pitaya farm east of Nanango. On arrival we discovered our lunch awaiting us which we all eagerly tucked into. Thanks to Owen, Amy, Ian and Seva for all the delicious meals. I look forward to hearing updates on the new Food Connect Kitchen.
Our hosts for the afternoon and evening, Bernice Danahay and her family, have been on Red Fox Pitaya Farm for several years. During this time they have removed acres of lantana, re-established pockets of rainforest and birdlife and planted a variety of fruit-bearing cacti. Bernice’s main crop is the pitaya, or dragonfruit, which grows on a bizarre looking, Dr Zeus-style plant that is native to South and Central America. The plant is a succulent epiphyte that grows in rainforests but is adaptable to many climates.
The one thing that the pitaya doesn’t like too much of is water and, unfortunately, this year Bernice’s farm has had a very wet season leaving her with only one crop when she should have had three. Bernice looks forward to the next season when she hopes she will see better quantities of the treasured fruit. I too will look out for Bernice’s pitaya in my boxes, I’m very keen to have a go at making a pitaya cheese cake! Thank you Bernice and family for showing your farm to us & sharing your story.
We pitched out tents amongst the pitaya plants and settled down for a tasty dinner and a yarn around the campfire. It’s always great to meet the farmers who provide Food Connect with the produce we all enjoy, and it’s wonderful to meet other Food Connectors and the people responsible for getting the boxes to us every week.
Thank-you to those of you who made this Farm Tour happen I look forward to catching up at the next Food Connect gathering! (And thanks to Bronwen, Yasu, and Luka and Maya for joining us on the farm tour).