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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.

It contains reflections on Land History | Markets | Profitability | Climate and the needs of the fruit vs the big markets | Ecosystems: soil and bush regeneration | Succession

Markets

Lance: By the time we got to [the year] 2000, I’d just had enough of the Central Markets ruling people’s lives, and I was either going to find a different way of marketing my fruit or I was going to leave and get a job.

I started [growing organically] around 2000, just before then, started basically just giving away the chemicals, because I just couldn’t do it any more. Like, I’ve spent so much of my life using all sorts of chemicals to try to produce clean fruit to satisfy that market, and you’ll have to forgive me if I get really angry about it, because I ended up making myself really sick. It was just making me very sick, affected my immune system. Yes, I just realised straightaway that if I was going to keep doing it, I had to do something different.

There’s a conflict there which I’ve struggled with for a long time, because if you’re in that system through the Central Markets, you’re forced to use that stuff to produce clean fruit, fruit with a clean skin. I mean, I was at the Market this morning, and I kept saying to people, “If the fruit’s got blemish on the skin, but it doesn’t affect the flesh, but the fruit.” It’s almost like you have to, you’re teaching people. It’s almost like you’re re-inventing the wheel or something crazy like that, basically, because people are used to going into the supermarket and they see these long lines of really clean fruit, and that’s their expectation, unless they’re taught something else from a young age.

Geraldine: Can I just make a comment or an observation, having been, my former partner being one of the early adopters of Farmers’ Markets, he went from this Burringbar area into Brisbane, and he was one of the founding stalls at what is now the Chandler Market in Brisbane, which is really big. There’s a sort of a psychological benefit that I’ve seen over the years with growers who I’ve seen who, prior to doing local markets, have been quite isolated on their farms and have been very disconnected with the consumer.

What I’ve seen happen in the advent of the Farmers’ Markets is this amazing sort of blossoming of the personalities of people as they’ve come off the farm and state engaging, and they get an absolute buzz out of producing this food that then they sell direct to the customer, and they get this instant feedback mechanism.

I recall one year doing the Markets with Lance over Christmas, and one of his customers came in with a Christmas card, and she had actually created a cornucopia of produce and photographed it and turned it into a Christmas card, and given the Christmas card back to the growers, you know.

So there’s a psychological benefit to this, that people have this amazing sense of community then that comes out of this connection through their food, and it is about this education around it’s not just the look of the food, but what it actually does for you in terms of the whole goodness that it gives as well, you know.

Lance: Yes, and the freshness of the food, too, because the vitamins and minerals in a lot of the fruit is so fragile. If the fruit is stored for any length of time, they’re gradually losing their goodness.

Georgia: I took a green tree frog to the Markets in Brisbane and found him in one of the hands. I kept him in a bucket and brought him home again at the end of the day.

Lance: Yes, Frank Walker had one there this morning, a green tree frog.

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