Ray & Merilyn Clark
Merilyn and Ray Clark have been farming on their land at Woombye on the Sunshine Coast since 1961, now with the help of their sons Darren and Trevor. They are very unique farmers, as they will try to grow just about anything for Food Connect. They grow pineapples, low acid pineapples, broccoli, eggplants, cabbage, beetroot, and sprouts for the Food Connect boxes.
Trevor runs the mushroom side of the business and Darren, Merilyn and Ray look after the rest of the crops. Some of the challenges they face are frost and sunburn on the crops, a lack of nitrogen in the soil and of course, ensuring a good supply of water for the farm. While they have had a good supply of water in 2009, this is not always the case and conserving water is something they continually have to be aware of. Around three quarters of the produce they grow is sold through Food Connect and the Brisbane markets and the remaining quarter is sold through their roadside stall outside the farm and at local farmers’ markets at the weekends.
The Clark family used to be conventional farmers but they now farm without the use of chemicals – with great results. Merilyn and Ray have been experimenting with new sustainable techniques on their farm, such as using sheets of re-usable plastic for weed control rather than chemicals or weeding by hand. They feel that they now produce better quality food and they are happy not to have to breathe poisons and chemicals as they once did when farming conventionally. They have a sense of overall goodness from having a chemical spray free, sustainable farm and to producing healthy food that their customers are happy to eat. They say that what they love about Food Connect is that we provide a stable market and good prices for their produce, which takes some of the risk out of farming for them.
They are also keen on keeping things local, and support this aspect of Food Connect’s philosophy. They have been supplying a variety of fruits and veggies to Food Connect since 2007. Above is one of their special globe eggplants. Aren't they gorgeous?