Fruit and Vegetable Growers call it quits!
After generations of growers in the Brisbane Valley and Lockyer Valley, many farmers are at breaking point!
Every week, there seems to be another one at breaking point or gone, including a very large grower in the last month.
Organic Growers in our western districts’ fruit and vegetable bowl are calling it quits or ploughing vegetables under!
Conventional farmers are trying to stay in the game by injecting the soil with an endless array of chemical fertilisers and pesticides while not leaving any gap between one crop and the next, leaving the soil crucially depleted of beneficial bacteria and nutrients. Constantly, I am passing farms that, within four days, harvest, plough and replant a new crop.
How could the ‘food’ harvested in this mindset be beneficial to the human system and not detrimental?
I am wanting to draw attention to this as no one is really speaking about it! And until I knew, I was somewhat naïve about what really goes on in farming.
Several years ago, I became brutally aware of the other side. I met and entered a relationship with a third-generation organic Farmer, and as time goes by, I have witnessed all the good and bad of farm life.
Having then moved to the farm full time in 2020, reality has been challenging, notwithstanding the devastation of two floods in 2023, being airlifted out during the first deluge. Due to red tape, we are only this month able to start repairs to the farm. (while the floods seem a distant ‘event’ for many)
During this time here, I have continually watched and listened. I have seen and heard the plight of the organic farms being raped and pillaged by the likes of the 2 major chains. Witnessing the pricing and expectations they put on the farmers versus the stories they sell to the media and public. They offered pumpkin pricing this past year reminiscent of that in 1999. During this time, they have also put demands on the farmers to do the packaging to their requirements, which continually change, necessitating new processing machinery. Freight has also become the expectation of the farmer and not the market receiver.
Conventional farms have also been put under this strain while expected to increase output each year by a percentage not feasible long term.
Meanwhile, the public is continually experiencing price rises on food … who is profiting or having a win here?
On another aspect, during the COVID period, farmers could not get pickers, and now that they can, the ‘powers that be’ have increased their hourly rate to one that is prohibitive for most. Yet, all agree that they should be paid a fair rate.
As a result, farmers are trying to sell or survive.
Part of this survival is that farmers opt to plough under their crop rather than pay additional costs to harvest to lose more money. They chose instead to plough it under in the hope of revitalising the soil and wishing that the next season would be better. Constantly, I witness this happen in this region, which breaks your heart.
Where does this leave them?
Where does this leave all of us?
Please don’t kid yourself … This is affecting all of us!
How can you help to change this to benefit all of us?
- Buying from farmer’s markets or
- Joining a community-supported agriculture program.
- Grow your vegetables while the change takes time to happen.
It is our responsibility to act and positively impact our local food systems.
Empower yourself to empower all!