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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

Go to: Early family history | Involvement with the Catholic Church | History from the 1950s | Dairying | Frank’s education | The history of the Bridge and naming of Boyle Road | Changes in the local area from the 1970s | Frank and Andrea meet | Moving out of dairying | Farmers’ markets | Rice | Raising awareness of food production | The future and the food movement | Farm forestry | Work ethic | The House

Farmers markets

Frank: And I suppose how we got into the farmers markets I’d heard, I took a whole lot of pecans with me and Sophie and I went, we started at Evans Head and did a day’s sort of stopping at all the health food stores, from Evans Head to Byron Bay. And just at the very end of the day, well it was a Thursday and we came back and the farmer’s market, the Byron Bay farmers market basically just started. It’s ten years this year, next week that the market had started. And I dropped in there and spoke to the manager and they said “yeah oh fantastic, great, what we need”. A few weeks later we ended up starting at the farmer’s market and it’s just gone from there.

So what farmer’s markets are you doing now?

Frank: We do Byron Bay on Thursday morning; Twilight Market on Thursday afternoon in Lismore; And Bangalow farmer’s market on Saturday morning.

Can I ask you about the split in the farmer’s market? Cause you were doing Saturday’s at the showground for a while, weren’t you?

Frank: I wasn’t involved in the, in the upheaval within the showground market. I sort of came in a little bit later. Because I I thought I could see the Thursday evening market was going so well, the Twilight Market, I really thought that we could have another market in the street, in the same venue, and encourage new farmer’s market customers. Not try and bring the farmer’s market customers from the showground over to the street, I was hoping that we would introduce a whole lot of new people to shopping at a farmers market. That was my vision. That probably wasn’t shared by everyone.

Andrea: But it’s not just you driving that, though?

Frank: No. But, I suppose that was why I wanted to go the street. Because I thought that we could introduce new people to the farmer’s market. But I didn’t have any of the politics that had gone on, that you know, that has been in the media. I sort of wasn’t party to any of I just thought that there was a good opportunity, but it just didn’t happen.

And do you like it, for a lot of farmers it must be quite difficult also being retailers? Like how do you feel about doing the markets?

Frank: That’s the best part of my week. It really is I, I really enjoy it and I look forward to Thursdays. Because I’m really proud of my product and you get the great feedback, you know. And it’s great for the ego as well, people come up and say, you know, these are the best pecans I’ve ever eaten. So as a grower you can’t get any better than that. To have someone, your customers, come telling you how good your product is, whereas in the past, milk you know, you’d get these reports back from the people you were producing [for] saying “oh your milk’s no good”. “It’s not good enough, we want better.” So to have a product and have the direct feedback from the customers it’s fantastic, and it encourages you to go and do more, and sort of expand your range. It’s very satisfying. It sort of makes it all very worthwhile.

Andrea: It suits your personality though. We know a lot of people who don’t like doing it.

Frank: That’s right. For me personally it’s my best day of the week.

And then are you still selling to Fundies and other places?

Frank: No we do very little wholesale now. With the pecans we’ve built up a market, a big enough market. So we’ve nearly been there ten years. We’ve built up enough market to sell all our product and every year our crop has got bigger, our pecan crop’s got bigger, but so has our sales, they’ve increased. So generally we don’t do any wholesale. Only for some of the pieces.

And did you say you are selling pecans to bakeries as well?

Andrea: Yeah, some of the pieces. So Goanna for example, are a good customer of ours aren’t they?

Frank: But even that, you know, a few years we had lots of pieces and we had a lot more than we could sell. So that’s why we developed the muesli. So now we are selling those pieces in muesli. So basically we are retailing them.

And the paste as well, you would be able to use the pieces.

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