Article by: Hari Yellina
The successful small business partnership of Elle Brown and Dylan Abdoo, who operate as Newcastle Greens, have finally sought aid after enduring their economic conditions and terrible weather. From its Cooranbong location, Newcastle Greens grows more than 40 varieties of microgreens, culinary flowers, and veggies. In just ten years, they’ve established themselves as national award-winning producers, with their Calvin Lamborn cultivar peas Rare Variety Leaves, as well as other lines, being served in some of NSW’s finest restaurants, such as Muse in Pokolbin and Quay in Sydney. The couple’s success was predicated on importing and producing unique seed lines that immediately drew the attention of top chefs. Plants including siber frill kale, bare needs kale, and puntarelle chicory are grown there. Hungarian wax peppers, shishito peppers, biquinho peppers, cucumber flowers, ice plants, and a variety of other peppers are available.
“We’ve got drought, COVID, and now rain in the previous two years. You can’t have it both ways, “Brown remarked. Last week, the company partners launched a Go Fund Me campaign in the hopes of raising $15,000 to keep them afloat. In recent months, farming has been difficult. They feature growth tunnels for leafy vines, microgreens, and flowers, but they still need sunlight or powdery mildew would kill them. Excessive rain and, more recently, bunnies stealing seedlings have wreaked havoc on the bigger vegetable plants in the ground.
New garden beds with seedlings washed away within days of planting due to the damp conditions. Seedlings died at three weeks due to a lack of sunlight, even though it takes nine weeks to get them to harvest. They’ve also had to contend with corn theft from deer, caterpillars, cabbage moths, and rosellas. About 60 restaurants rely on Newcastle Greens. After two years of starts and stops by hospitality traders due to COVID restrictions and lockdowns, business trends are finally beginning to normalise. The Greens now have insufficient vegetables to sell as restaurant commerce grows.
“While we still have produce to sell, the customary amount is not there, and nearly all of our anticipated future plantings have been devastated in recent (and continuing) torrential rains,” Brown wrote in her Go Fund Me appeal. Brown and Abdoo are the sole proprietors of the company. Brown explained, “The two of us can’t do everything.” “It’s difficult to stay on top of everything. It’s been quite difficult.” “Everything has gone up in price.” And we still need to pay rent. We had no choice except to sell our original Cooranbong home, which we did this week. It’s a never-ending situation. Moreover, the funds aren’t available.”
Trying to keep afloat, the two had depleted their overdraft. Seeds, soil, packing, energy, and rent are all part of the running costs. Brown explained, “We really need it to get crops in and cover more tunnels.” “We’re just chipping away at it; we’re not going to give up.” The Greens aren’t the only ones who think this way. Brown stated, “Everyone is hurting.” “It makes no difference what you do. There’s nothing you can do to save them when it rains like that for so long. You don’t have any money. Everyone is aware of it.”