22 August 2012

Farm Tour

Last Saturday, we took part in a farm tour organised by the wonderful Food Connect. We visited two chemical free farms (they describe themselves as such because they are organically run but haven't become certified due to the costs) in the sunshine coast hinterland. One farm produced ginger on ten acres but was also establishing itself as a sustainable, self sustaining property so it really appealed to Shaun and I.  The farm is the childhood home of Michael, where he now lives with his partner Emma, and for the last three years they have been growing ever increasing crops of ginger.  They really seem to have it down to a fine art now and their energy and passion was absolutely infectious.  They do farm gate sales as well, so you can check them out on www.mtmellum.com.au  Here are a few pics of our afternoon there.  We started the visit with Michael giving us an overview of the process they've been following that was accompanied by this picture board.

We then went over to the paddock and the kids (and a few adults) got to dig up some ginger.  It was like Christmas for the kids as they dug up great chunks of ginger in what looked like an empty paddock.
That's me with the grey t-shirt and hat on the left.
We dug up two of these in about 10 minutes. Emma estimated that we dug up about 25kg of ginger and it didn't even make a dent.  They are expecting 5-6 tonnes of ginger from this year's harvest.
They then wash it with a gerni on a wire rack, which would be a big job for 5-6 tonnes of the stuff.  The kids did a great job washing this lot, but I think they washed each other more vigorously than the ginger though....
And at the end of the day, here is what you get
Michael explained that they prepare the soil, put the seed ginger down and then cover it with hardwood sawdust.  Here is the big pile they've recently had delivered.
And lastly, we saw last year's ginger patch, which Michael and Emma have now planted out with broad beans to add a bit of nitrogen and then next year they will rest it.
So a great afternoon with out generous hosts.  If you're in the sunshine coast area, its really worth dropping in and picking your own.


  1. Thanks for a really interesting post , it is too cold for us to grow ginger ( though I did manage it once due to a weird season). I liked how they managed to label themselves as 'chemical free'...we have looked at getting the farm certified organic and it is quite a difficult thing to do (though I understand why). We often find growers in our area who simply don't use any chemicals or pesticides...so it doesn't always have to have the organic label if you know where to look.
    Great post!

    1. Thanks Kim. I'm looking forward to giving their ginger a go. I planted one lot this past season and it seemed fine, even though it was in serious shade. So I'll let you know how we go.

      And yes, there is a big discussion about whether its worth the organic label, as it doesn't always encourage the most sustainable practice. You can only use certified inputs, but no thought is given if having to source this from WA, at huge transport costs, rather than next door, which is perhaps organic but just not certified. So chemical free is becoming a better description for many. We like it.