The Napranum Community Farm – from RIG News #15
A great farm and more – news from the Cape York Peninsula
The Napranum Community Farm
Susan and Phillip Bonaccorsi, from Community Enterprises Australia, and the Napranum community and CDEP team are growing and cooking up a storm on the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula. The community farm is fast becoming a local ‘food hub’. It provides a successful focal activity upon which the community is building a range of other food services and activities that together, are making a real difference to local people by helping to make fresh food more readily available and affordable in a variety of ways. Susan and Phillip kindly provided an update from the Napranum Community Farm and spoke with RIG Network for the following story.
‘It has been an exciting year for us all here and we’ve been very busy with many new projects on the go. At the farm, which is about 22 acres in size, we have had a good year of cropping with high yields. We successfully grew watermelons, tomatoes, capsicums, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, chillies, pumpkin (both Kent and Butternut), honeydew melon, eggplant, sweet corn, paw paw, passionfruit and rock melon. The rock melon was good early in the season but once it gets ‘hot’ forget about trying to grow them as they stew on the ground before they are ready! But otherwise, everything else grew really well. We were able to get two plantings in of everything and in some cases three. We are still picking and will be until the rains come.
Because of the successful crops we have found that we have quite a surplus – even though we sell our fruit and veg from the farm we still have excess produce. So we are in the process of building a registered kitchen. This will be up and running in two more weeks and it will include a servery that is connected through to our veggie stall. We are all very excited about the kitchen as it will enable us to make pickles and jams that we can also sell on the farm at our store. Two of our participants have achieved their HACCP certificates (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Procedures for Food Safety) so it will all be done safely and above board. This will eliminate waste and add a new dimension to the farm. We already dry fruit with our dehydrator and our dried bananas are very popular. We have enough bananas to cater for the whole Cape. So, we have a lot of excess fresh bananas that we dry. This helps stop waste and provides a product that is selling like hot cakes!’.
RIG: How does the farm sell its produce?
Susan: We have a farm store and fruit and veggie stall. The stall operates four days a week on weekdays. We also run a fruit and veg market every second Saturday at which we sell farm produce that we top up with produce sourced from elsewhere and is delivered by Seaswift (that we make sure is ‘ready for sale’ within an hour – so its fresh!). This enables us to ‘guarantee’ a reliable supply of the range of fruit and veg that local people want. The produce we source from elsewhere we sell at wholesale rates plus 30% to cover freight. We price produce grown at the farm at the wholesale rates of the day at other markets. So, in this way we keep all of the produce as affordable as possible while also making a profit on the fruit and veg produced locally at the farm.
RIG: Who buys the produce?
Susan: We have lots of customers and they include local people from the community, tourists, and people from Weipa who travel the 14kms or so to Napranum community to buy fruit and veg from our market. A key group of consumers are pregnant young women who receive Apunipima (the local health service) Food Vouchers to the value of $40.00. At our prices, $40 buys a lot of fruit and veg and the market and voucher system really helps these girls and their families eat well. At last Saturday’s market – that only went for two hours – we sold $1200.00 in fruit and veg. That’s quite a lot when you factor in that everything we sold that weekend was priced at $6.00 a kilogram or less.
RIG: Who works in the garden?
Susan: We have a fantastic team, and the farm operates with community and CDEP participant support. Up to 14 people on CDEP work in the garden, it varies, but it’s around 10 people at 4 days per week.
‘We have started some exciting new ventures. One of them being a project for the new Western Cape Campus being built here in Weipa just outside Napranum. We won the contract to supply all the plants for the campus site. This has given us a new large nursery and has enabled many of the participants to achieve Horticulture 2 Certificates. This is still ongoing but the participants have worked hard and all that had to be repotted has been. We are talking about hundreds of plants and trees. It has been hard work but we have done most of the hard part now and we are looking forward to the rain to help with the vigour of all the plants.
We are a team here and we would never have achieved what we have this year without the hard work put in by everyone’.
Below: Pictures from the Napranum Farm and Napranum Nursery project activities for the Western Cape Campus project.
Story and images kindly provided, Susan and Phillip Bonaccorrsi; images with permission from Susan and Phillip and Brendan Hodson and Robert Woosup. Many thanks.