A Good Harvest
Matt Golinski meets the local farmers making a difference to producers, the planet and what goes on the household plate.
Remember a couple of years ago when toilet paper suddenly became hard currency, hand sanitiser was more expensive than gin, and every punnet of vegetable seedlings and packet of seeds disappeared from shelves as everyone prepared themselves to solve the food security crisis we were about to face?
If anything positive came out of all that disturbing hoarding that went on, (apart from hilarious videos of people fighting over the last 12 pack of Sorbent left on the supermarket shelves), it showed all those would-be, self-sufficient home farmers just how hard it actually is to grow vegetables, and sparked a wave of interest amongst consumers to understand more about where their food comes from and who produces it.
Farmers like Mick Dan and his fiancé Kelly Burton who own and operate Good Harvest Organic Farms feel compelled to let their customers know who they are and what they stand for.
Their core business values of ‘integrity, transparency and community’ means they want the thousands of people they feed each week to feel a connection to them, their philosophies, and the region and its seasons.
Despite a family background in agriculture, it took a while for Mick’s farming genes to kick in, but when they did, he went about it with an approach that was guided by everything he’d learnt in life up to that point.
Organic principles and sustainability – healthy land and healthy people is where Good Harvest’s passion lies.
That commitment was recognised in November last year when Mick was named 2021 Organic Farmer of the Year at the Australian Organic Industry Awards and Good Harvest were awarded the Sunshine Coast Business Award in the category of Food & Agribusiness (large).
Mick’s daily schedule of planting, tending and harvesting the crops he produces on their three farms around the hinterland may seem a far cry from his previous life teaching physics and engineering at the University of the Sunshine Coast, but his scientific mind plays a big part in the problem solving required to succeed when just spraying everything with chemicals isn’t an option.
Soil health is a key priority, with regular soil testing allowing him to get the right balance of elements through a custom blend of compost. Regular cover crops (such as legumes) between plantings add nitrogen naturally to the soil and provide valuable organic matter, and monthly additions of beneficial bacteria make sure the soil is full of microbial life. All these things and just pure hard physical work come together to produce flavour-packed, nutrient-dense vegetables to fuel the healthy bodies and minds of Good Harvest’s loyal following.
Whatever they aren’t able to produce on their own certified organic farms to fill the weekly home delivery orders and stock the shelves at the three farmers’ markets they attend, they source from a network of other likeminded organic farmers in the area.
They say the average age of a farmer in Australia is 60. A sobering statistic, but not at all surprising when you look at what a risky and often heartbreaking vocation it tends to be.
In an attempt to encourage younger people to get involved in the industry, Mick and Kelly have plans to develop a program to support and mentor aspiring new farmers through what can sometimes be a daunting setup and a very steep learning curve.
The Future Harvest Farmer Foundation will harness the knowledge and experience they have gained through their trials and triumphs during many years as farmers and business owners, and hopefully help the establishment of more small-scale certified organic farms into the local network.
Good Harvest provide weekly or fortnightly deliveries of their just-picked fruit and vegetables as well as a range of other delicious organic products on a subscription basis, which can be altered or cancelled at any time. Orders open Saturday and close on Thursday at 9am for delivery to your door on Fridays.
And if you’re keen to get to know some of those people who grow your food you can catch up with them face to face at Marcoola and Kawana Farmers’ Markets every Saturday and Noosa Farmers’ Market on Sundays.
Mick and Kelly’s vision for Good Harvest goes beyond next week, next month or next year. They are creating a business model that they hope will benefit your children and grandchildren and the world they inherit.
They believe that having community connect with the food source by supporting their local farmer, will help us to create a much more sustainable planet, not just for now but also for future generations. That truly is a good harvest and something we can all support.