by MICHELE STERNBERG

Did you know Australia’s Farmer of the Year lives right here on the Sunny Coast?

Farmer Mick Dan from Coolum won the title last year and, along with partner Kelly Burton, the dynamic duo has received a raft of accolades for the Good Harvest Organic Farm.

At last year’s Australian Organic Industry Awards, Good Harvest was a finalist in four separate categories, taking home Farmer of the Year title. The following day the farm was named winner of the Food and Agribusiness Category – Large at the Sunshine Coast Business Awards.

This local and national recognition is just one of the reasons the farm has been chosen as a regular stop on Creative Tours’ new Foodie Trail.

Tour director Josh Donohoe says the amazing variety and quality of local producers never fails to surprise those who join a tour to experience the Sunshine Coast and Noosa’s thriving food, wine and craft beer culture.

“The past two years, since Covid, has predominantly been the local market doing our tours – just locals and a lot of the drive market from Brisbane and the Gold Coast,” Josh says.

“On the Gold Coast they don’t have anything really like this down there anymore and they are absolutely fascinated.

“They experience our produce, amazing beaches and the hinterland all wrapped up in one.

“I think locals are often just as amazed as visitors as to what’s in our backyard.”

Mick grows more than 20 different varieties of produce on more than 25 acres spread across three farms at Woombye and another at Ninderry.

And he loves explaining what he does, and why, to visitors who walk through the farm gate.

“People are interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it’s grown,” he says.

When we caught up with him, he was walking his dog on the beach. How many farmers can do that after work?

Mick says choosing to grow organically certainly means more challenges, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Growing up with my grandparents being farmers, I saw what chemical use did to the farm and did to them. They both died when they were 70,” he says.

“Organic is the only way I would grow. It just seems to make more sense.”

The farm grows a range of produce including market greens, Asian greens, ginger, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and even watermelon.

While there are many farms on the Sunshine Coast producing large quantities of one item, Mick says no other farms grow the variety Good Harvest did.

They sell direct to the customer through local farmers’ markets – you can find them on Wednesdays at the mid-week Coolum market, Saturdays at the Kawana Farmers Markets and Marcoola Market, Sundays at the Noosa Farmers Markets and at the Witta Market on the third Saturday of the month.

They also have a home delivery service that kept them busier than ever during Covid lockdowns and has fostered a growing appreciation for what the Sunshine Coast has to offer among their customers.

Josh says he likes to focus on producers who have a really great story to tell, such as Good Harvest.

“There’s definitely an educational component to our tours but I think it’s really an authentic local experience peppering local stories through local produce,” he says.

He says there has been an ‘awakening’ among locals who have had to look a lot closer to home for their holidays since the border closures.

Josh organises a range of tours, for groups and private bookings, including farm-to-fork experiences, wine and cheese, Noosa drinks, distillery tours and more.

But it’s the new Foodie Trails he’s really excited about.

There are three to choose from, covering three very distinct regions – Sunshine Coast, Noosa and the Mary Valley.

“They are designed to get people into places they don’t usually get to see,” he says.

“It’s a behind-the-scenes look, meeting the maker, seeing how the produce is grown, picked and then used.”

Visitors start the day at a local coffee roaster who provides an insight into the coffee industry, roasting process and pours a fresh cup of coffee for the guests to kickstart the experience. 

“We then visit local farms like the award-winning Good Harvest Organic Farm and meet Mick who’ll be pulling stuff out of the ground, explaining why they grow it, what they grow and when,” Josh says.

A long lunch gives everyone a chance to sample some of the local produce they’ve just seen growing during a four or five-course meal at the Mill Street Kitchen and Pantry in Nambour, for those who’ve chosen the Sunshine Coast tour.

Then it’s a stop at Sunshine and Sons near the Big Pineapple to sample their gin, vodka and new rum made with organic sugar cane.

To book a tour visit creativetours.com.au.

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