Originally from New Zealand, John Tidy of Wharenui Avocados was drawn to farming in the Mary Valley because of its fertile soil. It’s a move that has paid off for this passionate producer who grows spray-free avocados on 20 hectares at Amamoor, in the Mary Valley, about 17km south of Gympie.

John bought the property and its existing 500 trees in 2003 and now has close to 1000 trees, producing fruit from May to December. As well as Fuerte, Sheppard, Hass, Pinkerton and Wurtz varieties, he grows two hectares of custard apples, a hectare of citrus lines and some market garden lines.

“I’ve farmed all my life – mainly sheep and cattle and have worked as a jackaroo and a shearer. But I’ve always loved avocados and Australian farming. Now I’m an Aussie farmer growing avocados,” he says.

John, who is committed to growing spray-free produce, says he has slowly educated his customers that a perfect-looking fruit is not always the most flavoursome.

“What’s on the inside is more important for taste and health benefits and my customers now understand that. To achieve this, I keep fruit on my trees longer than anyone else and open the trees to let the wind through to stop pests.

“Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve sold my produce at the Jan Powers Farmers’ Markets at the Powerhouse, Brisbane every second and fourth Saturday and I’m also at the Noosa Farmers Markets every Sunday.…

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It’s been a steep learning curve for Traveston growers Nathan and Sarah Davis who bought a run-down property less than two years ago and started regenerating it. Today, Hinterland Herbs and Produce at Spring Valley farm, produces chemical-free herbs and seasonal produce, following organic and sustainable farming practices, to supply local growers’ markets and retailers.

Although they both grew up on farms, they were more familiar with sheep, beef and dairy cattle than fresh produce.

“We bought a 68-hectare property with bare blocks. We knew very little about cropping but were committed to creating a diverse business. It took a lot of work to get the water infrastructure in place and get the blocks ready for farming but we had incredible support and a wealth of information from Mary Valley Country Harvest,” Sarah says.

The farm now has about a hectare under cultivation with herbs including basil, parsley, oregano, thyme and coriander as well as seasonal lines such as tomatoes, salad greens and potatoes. During spring, the farm will also produce cut flowers for bouquets. All produce is picked and packed on the farm.

The family has also just begun farming Dorper sheep – part of the sustainable farming cycle – with direct marketing to local consumers.

“We supply grain-free pastured lamb direct from paddock to plate,” Sarah says.

“We’re passionate about where our food comes from and eating locally to reduce food miles, so we produce only enough to supply the local market.”

Buy fresh herbs and produce from Hinterland Herbs and Produce at the Dagun and Gympie Town Centre Markets and look for it at various retail outlets in the region.…

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Matt Golinski is the Gympie Region Food and Culinary Tourism Ambassador and we are in awe of his energy, skill and passion in sourcing and creating sensational dishes using produce grown and sourced from the Gympie region.  Join Matt @ Matt Eats Gympie as he visits our region’s fantastic array of local growers, producers and value adding businesses, writes about his experiences and inspires your tastebuds with recipes he’s created using the produce he’s just picked up from his visit!!…

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