After purchasing 30 acres of land about 17 years ago on the Eastern slopes of Mt Franklin, Florian established his small scale Certified Organic farm 11 years ago and farms about 3 acres of it.
When you walk down the driveway of Mt Franklin Organics it is easy to be struck by the beauty, order and care for the land. His land practices, solar energy and building design all contribute to environmental sustainability. After being a Chef for many years he was ready for a change. He loved gardening, had the land and could read the trend of more and more people wanting to buy fresh, local and organic.
He grows veggies, herbs, berries and fruit and distributes mainly to organic shops, cafes, restaurants as well as selling at the local farmers market. He also sells seedlings, garlic, onions, beetroot and pumpkin. He can store garlic, onions and pumpkin in his shed but distributes the fresh harvest on the same day.
His produce is NAASA Certified Organic.
He is well regarded and well supported in the local community for providing good quality local, fresh, organic produce. Some locals will only buy his seedlings to get a healthy stock, particularly heirloom tomatoes. Although he says that ironically, fresh local produce is not even on the radar for some people.
What he does contributes to a better lifestyle with better food. It makes a difference.
Unforeseen weather events are a constant challenge of every farmer. For example he has had bumper crops of tomatoes, only to have a cold snap for 10 or so days ruining the crop. Pests such as grasshoppers can ruin a crop. These are the risks of being a farmer.
Some regulations discriminate against small farm holdings. Tourist properties can get their fill of bore water unmetered, but small-scale irrigation needs to be metered. Discriminatory agricultural regulations are a common catch cry from small scale farm holdings.
He used to value add by making delicious jams and relishes but has found that constantly changing labelling laws and certifying logo changes rendered is unviable. Mores the pity as they are delicious.
Florian maintains that it is important to keep the money in the community. He is recognised locally for the quality of his produce and he works hard to produce it. He doesn’t employ other workers, but friends help with harvesting occasionally as a mutual exchange.
Insights and Advice to Newcomers
With hindsight he would have built a bigger shed, planned fencing and grown less variety. Each vegetable and fruit has different requirements Borrow as little as possible. The weather poses a risk so the first years can be hard. It is easier said than done. Find a market before you start harvesting. Go manual and get off technology, it doesn’t make the veggies grow better!
or call Florian Hofinger 0412 517 013