Here at YFM, we often share our revelation moments – what got us into caring so passionately about food, but also who’s growing it and how. For me, it was a home grown strawberry, which tasted nothing like it did from the supermarket. So we asked our community about growers who were challenging the usual model of “grow lots of food at the expense of everything else, including health.” Our Brisbane team got us onto Adam at Mt Tamborine Organic Garden.
Taking the approach of “you are what you eat eats” to garden greens, we caught up with Adam to get his quick-fire thoughts as a farmer feeding his soil as much as he feeds the crowds at Northey St Organic Markets.
What do you do differently compared to most Australian farms?
Design nutrition to soil type (Ferrasol), increase mineralisation, increase biodiversity, increase soil humus, and make small farming profitable!
What are some of the most common misconceptions about the way you farm?
That farming has little impact on the world’s climate and ecosystem – 70% of the world’s fresh water supply is consumed by farming. But it’s also critical to sequestering atmospheric carbon.
There’s also a misconception that organic farming can’t be productive, but it is when the organic principles of building humus, remineralisation and increasing biodiversity are adopted.
Often us eaters (especially anyone who’s never grown anything in their lives) can be pretty disconnected creatures. What’s the funniest interaction you’ve had which made you go: wow.
I had one lady who ate only frozen vegetables, because fresh vegetables from the supermarket had no flavour. She was blown away by the seasonality of our farm and how her skin pores became finer after two weeks of quality organic food and vegetables!
As a farmer, what would be your top tip to those starting out with growing their own food? Whether it’s a container of basil or a pumpkin vine?
Grow seasonal, find real soil and use compost.
Why do you think more farmers don’t farm the way you do?
Most farmers only listen to their local salesman and rarely think about the consequences of what they are using. For example their are 1500 agricultural chemicals used in food production that are either endocrine disruptors (effect hormones) or neurotoxic toxins – they are not tested but are approved for use.
It’s a major reason for buying certified organic food.
Often there’s a bit of black-and-white “big ag” vs “small producers” rhetoric going on – but what’s something you find you CAN agree on with other farmers?
Australia needs an agricultural policy that protects the environment, water supply and human health for generations to come.
What are the best parts of your job?
Meeting the consumer who loves flavour and aroma and freshness.
What are the biggest challenges of your job?
Getting customers to understand that fresh means 1-3 days – not what the supermarket says so!
What do you think is the simplest way eaters can better support farmers?
Find local producers under 100km and buy their food.
What should I know that I probably don’t know?
That farming is critical for health and finding a good farmer to feed you should be a priority.
What food marketing BS would you like to call out as a farmer?
Explain clearly where your food comes from and how it was grown, using artificial fertilisers or even chicken manure pellets is not enough. Rotations, compost and remineralisation is critical to building a healthy immune system, good skin and and clear mind.
What’s your favourite way to eat what you grow?
Fresh rocket salads or lightly cooked vegetables gives me a real buzz, my goal is to try and get the chi back into food
Are you currently conducting any on-farm experiments? How are they going?
Currently designing methods to cope with extreme heat, going very well!
Paint a picture of the best day of farming you’ve had – what did it look like?
When my soil went from red to chocolate brown in under 6 months. Soft soil with healthy vegetable roots, enabling plants to produce all their essential oils.
We recently saw an awesome video of a farmer dancing that went totally viral. What do you do to make your day a little more awesome? Don’t be shy!
I have been studying wing chun for a number of years, it is a form of meditation, designed by a woman that marries well with growing quality food.
Often farmers are super passionate about what they grow – do you see other foods in a similar light to the food you grow?
I’m conscious that many foods are not grown correctly – for example, brazil nuts are historically important as a source of selenium. However with plantations being grown across the world on marginal soils low in selenium this has led to declining food quality. We need to understand the origin of food and who grows it. This is the core of true health and protecting the ecology of our planet.
Image credit: Mt Tamborine Organic Garden