Article by: Hari Yellina
Building a vegetable empire a year ago was never about making money for Sam Higgins and his wife, Susie. It began as a labour of love to help the environment by providing a chemical-free patch and a means to connect to Mother Earth. As a result, when lettuce prices soared to $12 in supermarkets across the country this week, they did not take advantage of the chance to drastically raise their own lettuce prices. “We just want to maintain offering this service to the community,” Mr Higgins said. “So, we’re going to keep our rates mediocre, so people will still come back to us when the costs are really low again [in supermarkets].”
The pair sought to help the neighbourhood after noting that the fruit and vegetables they bought didn’t taste as nutritious as they used to. Mr. Higgins quit his career as a plumber, and Ms. Higgins quit her job as a teacher to follow their shared green passion. Mr Higgins explained, “We wanted to build the community by creating something where individuals can come with their families and learn and share things.” “It’s good for you to get outside and get your hands filthy, and I think it’s also essential to show your kids where their food comes from.” The two started their company with the goal of encouraging people to buy local products and develop their own gardens.
The message arrived at a critical time, they argued, as grocery prices continued to rise with no end in sight. “If we obtain all of our food from one spot and a weather catastrophe wipes out a large crop, or whatever vegetable it is, then we’re basically setting ourselves up for feast and famine,” Mr Higgins explained. The wet weather in south-east Queensland has shifted attention to lettuce pricing, as growers in the state have lost crops and are unable to plant more when freezing conditions set in. In certain supermarkets, lettuce can now cost more to $12.
“Keep it local if we have the means to cultivate our own food. Then it stands to reason that we won’t see these massive price increases if we’re not reliant on a single source for our vegetables “Mr. Higgins explained. Mr Higgins encourages people to get their hands dirty by allowing them to pick their own vegetables from the ground. He stressed the need of individuals reducing their “food miles.” Mr Higgins explained, “I understand it takes a lot of effort to keep your vegetable patch up and going, which is why we’ve basically had to go full time into this to help individuals who don’t have the time or energy to produce it themselves.” To stay afloat, you’ll have to work long hours and put in a lot of effort, which means volunteers are welcome.
Karlie Bell helps with her husband and two sons, ages nine and five. She described it as a beneficial technique to teach kids about the origins of their food. “It’s about understanding about food’s origins and how to grow,” Ms Bell explained. “We hoped that by coming here, we would be motivated to cultivate more vegetables at home.” “It also develops a relationship with the grower, allowing us to contribute via our own efforts in order to turn to them when things become tough.” Ms. Bell and her family first intended to visit the farm in order to obtain food security. “Earlier in the year we were hearing stuff about supply lines being interrupted, food prices, cost of living going up, that’s what prompted us to establish this, but since then we come back because we just love it,” she said. “After a day’s work at the farm, we always leave feeling happy.”