One farmer’s desire to change the way we grow food
Just a few miles north of Gympie lies a chemical free farm in the small town of Theebine. The passion behind this farm is one that came after an eye opening experience of a farmer working at a tomato farm. This experience with chemical farming quickly shined a light on what he felt led to do.
About the tomato farm that was so life changing for Adam, he stated, “I noticed empty drums lying around with skull and cross bones on them.” On a hot day, he made the mistake of rolling up his sleeves before picking tomatoes. He not only developed a rash from the chemicals, but some days he felt bad enough to stay in bed. “One girl went into anaphylactic shock in reaction to the sprays on the plants and had to be carted off in an ambulance with a tube down her throat.”
He knew something was very wrong, but his concerns soon grew greater. “They threatened that there were plenty of other pickers waiting for our jobs if we didn’t like it.” Soon, he noticed just exactly what was happening in most big chemical farms. Immigrants and farmers alike were being exploited. “Does it really have to be this way?” he asked. He quickly found his answer.
Today, he and his fiancé enjoy happy, healthy farming without chemicals. He jokes that he “may” finish his apprenticeship within the next 40 years, but it doesn’t bother him to continue learning new ways to improve the farming industry. “Every day, customers ask me ‘Is it spray free?’ So many of them have cancer, immune problems, gluten intolerance and other illnesses from the food they’ve been eating,” he stated. “Believe me, they care.”
Adam loves that his customers care about the same issues he feels are important today. He believes the power lies within the choices consumers make. “I have come to believe big chemical farming practised over the last 70 years is slow, mass murder. It poisons the soil, leaves it depleted and poisons us,” he stated, as he went on to mention the unethical way farmers are forced to squeeze prices too low to stay in business. Next time you see a lettuce for a dollar each in a supermarket, try thinking about what has happened to that farmer.”
As a member of the Mary Valley Country Harvest Co-operative, Adam works with others to collect produce within an hour radius of the Mary Valley. Together, they feed about 60 families. The co-op also helps when one farmer is out of a product of which another may have a surplus. “If you come to my stall, you'll notice that every price tag has the farmers name and the area for their farm, as well as its chemical free status,” he said.
Because his farming practice is all about respecting the earth, the traditions of farming, and nutrition, they specialise in heirloom vegetables, meaning some of the things may not even be recognized by current generations, although grandparents and great-grandparents ate vegetables from similar seeds. To view a unique variety of chemical free produce that is farmed with compassion and fairness, stop in to see Adam next to the Mango Shack at the Noosa Farmers’ Market on Sunday. Zucchinis, tomatoes, cucumbers, fancy lettuce (hydraganically grown), lady fingers, organic guavas, persimmons and avocadoes are just a few of the delights available this season.