Drier season sparks new concept
AWARD-WINNING Sunshine Coast fruit grower Hinterland Feijoas is reinventing itself to beat the late onset of the feijoa season by setting up an on-farm food cart, "Myrtle”.
Owners Sally Hookey and Peter Heineger are determined not to let the driest summer on record spoil their plans for a productive autumn on their Belli Park farm and are now offering homemade baked goods, coffee, pickles and jams made with produce grown on their farm or others in the area. Their fruit usually arrives in March but is late this year.
It means customers who booked months or even years ago to get their annual feijoa fix are still waiting for the green light to come and pick up their goods, and new bookings are on hold until the harvest is in full swing.
"We are picking, and it's quite a good crop - it's just going to be really hard to manage in terms of when it's going to hit,” Ms Hookey said.
In the meantime, Myrtle and a new farm shop in the couple's converted garage is selling fresh local produce, honey, jams, ceramics and artwork every Saturday all year round.
"Myrtle is a fully registered commercial kitchen,” Ms Hookey said.
"She's quite big. She's beautiful.”
Having Myrtle on site at the farm means Ms Hookey can make small batches of pickles and jams with surplus produce, and sell it direct to the public through their farm shop.
Ms Hookey's vegetable garden and fruit trees had long provided for all of her family's needs, she said, but the surplus was rarely big enough to justify hiring a commercial kitchen.
The on-farm Feijoa Farm Shop stocks food grown and made in the Sunshine Coast region, including Cooloola Milk, Montville Coffee, Rhodavale Pork's feijoa and free range pork sausages, products from Eumundi Beef and Tamworth Flyers pork.
"People can buy all the things we're making in Myrtle - if they like the taste, they can buy,” Ms Hookey said.
"It's a little showcase of local producers and artists.”
Hinterland Feijoas is a three-time winner of the Sunshine Coast Excellence in Business Award (2012, 2013, 2014) and an inductee of the SCBA Hall of Fame.
Ms Hookey said the small farm had survived by continually reinventing itself.
"I'm so glad we did diversify so far, because we don't have fruit but we've still got heaps of locals dropping in for something to eat,” she said.
"Otherwise we'd have nothing. It's been perfect timing.”