A Far North Queensland family farming enterprise that started with a patch of cucumbers has grown ten-fold and diversified into a thriving paddock to plate vegetable business.
A growing success: Vegetable operation expanding with room to move
All produce grown at Crystal Creek Plantation at Rollingstone, north of Townsville, is destined for local markets with owners Kerry Boswell and Sven Fehrenbacher picking and selling their vegetables directly to local customers.
The 100-acre farm, known locally as Rollingstone Ranch, is home to small crops like Asian vegetables, baby leaf spinach, kale, rocket, lettuce, bok choy, zucchini, cucumber and tomatoes.
It’s 10 times the size Kerry and Sven started out with eight years ago.
“We started with a small patch of cucumbers on Sven’s parents’ farm and we’ve never looked back,” Kerry said.
The couple accessed a Sustainability Loan from the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) to purchase the land which allowed them to be self-sufficient and diversify into new crops with plenty of room for future growth.
“We didn’t have enough ground to grow all the crops we wanted to, we needed more land and the only way we could do that is with the assistance of QRIDA ,” Kerry said.
“Without that loan we wouldn’t have been able to expand. We would have been at a standstill.
“QRIDA really helped our business grow.”
Kerry said while the business was expanding, a lack of space on Sven’s parents’ property limited their options and the decision was made to buy their own farm.
“We found this one at about 2am on a Sunday morning on the way to market and we knew it was ours. We’ve gone from a small 10-acre block to 100 acres which is nice, and we have a lot of room to expand and fulfil our dreams.
“We could see ourselves here and we could see ourselves developing it into something.”
The farm allows plenty of opportunity to diversify into new crops while Kerry and Sven have plans to move into the fruit tree market in the future.
“Now we have the extra land we can rotate our crops, rest the ground longer and grow cover crops. Through that we use less fertiliser and pesticide,” Sven said.
The early Sunday morning trip to Townsville to the markets is still a constant for Kerry and Sven, who are loyal to their local customers.
Sven said the decision to only supply to local markets meant they were able to grow to meet demand and enjoy the benefits of higher returns on their produce.
“You can control your own market and you’re not relying on a second or third party,” he said.
“We grow for what the market can handle, and we can see what it handles every week as we see it firsthand.”
QRIDA Far North Regional Area Manager Sam Spina was able to meet Kerry and Sven on farm and help them through the application process.
“Sam came to our home, sat down with us and helped us go through the loan application.
He went above and beyond,” Kerry said.
“With Sam’s help and the rest of the team in Brisbane we were able to make our deadline and sale contract date, we had lots of assistance and nobody was too busy to help you.
“QRIDA gave us solutions instead of problems.”
Kerry said she encouraged other producers looking to expand or diversify their farming business to investigate their options with QRIDA.
“I would highly recommend other producers to contact QRIDA. They were extremely helpful to us,” she said.
“It’s been amazing and has made life a whole lot easier.”
For more information see Sustainability Loans.