Aspiring small farmers will gather on March 30 at a delightful Mary Valley property which produces olive products and teas under the brand Obi Obi Essentials.
The field day topic is "Creating a Mixed Enterprise" and the session starts at 2pm in the Obi Obi valley near Kenilworth.
It is the second of at least eight field days which continue the summer school program being offered through the Mary Valley Country Harvest Cooperative at Dagun.
Coordinator Elaine Bradley secured Federal Government funding through the Local Employment Coordinator Flexible Funding Pool to prepare and deliver the summer school program, which consisted of two days of training and workshops in February and the ensuing field days.
"The Business of Small Area Farming" summer school was auspiced by community organisation Mary Valley Inc (MVI), which brought the focus onto the production and sale of local produce with its Mary Valley Country Flavours project in 2013.
While 60 per cent of participants came from the Gympie Region, other attendees came from as far as Hervey Bay, Maleny, Brisbane and Blackbutt , Ms Bradley said in her report to MVI.
She said most people already owned property and most of these were looking at either changing activity or introducing new activity. The remainder were looking to buy or lease property, and the majority of all participants were interested in further summer schools and monthly farm visit programs.
The subject streams covered general horticultural enterprises, financial and property management, animal enterprises and market gardening, and the range of Mary Valley produce was showcased at a buffet dinner for participants.
"Small farming often presents you with more questions than answers," Ms Bradley said, "and one of our aims was to reassure people that there are networks - both formal and informal - to help them find solutions."
Her comments were echoed by Lynne Wilbraham, manager of economic development at Gympie Regional Council which is auspicing the Gympie Gold Regional Produce marketing and business development campaign.
"The summer school program meshes really well with the aims and objectives of Gympie Gold - to promote local produce and our regional producers," Mrs Wilbraham said.
"But even more than that, from an industry perspective, it's about growing the demand and then marketing to that demand for wholesome produce found in the Gympie/Mary Valley regions.
"Programs like the summer school inform and educate people about the benefits but also the pitfalls of small farming, and give them a network of people to answer their questions."
All transcripts from the summer school workshops will be available on the Mary Valley Country Harvest Cooperative website, either as a podcast or as a written transcript, by May this year.
The field day on March 30 will give participants an insight into the Johnson family property of 200 acres near Kenilworth.
In 20 years, they have established a 50-acre plot of hardwood timber, 1000 olive trees and a large area of tea bushes.
From the olives and Camellia sinensis they have created a diverse line of oils and teas, available throughout the Sunshine Coast under the brand name Obi Obi Essentials. Alpacas and geese are used in the orchards to keep grasses and weeds in control. Alexina Johnson also collects and spins wool from the alpacas, crocheting some into wearable art and selling ready to use wool, creating more products from their farm.
More recently, a large solar dehydrator and a market garden have been added to their activities.
Alexina will share her many stories on selecting the right "mix" of activities that have made their integrated enterprises successful. Inquiries to Elaine Bradley on 0459 225399 or email email@example.com
Farm Field Day
Obi Obi Valley, Near Kenilworth
30th of March 2014
Inquiries to Elaine Bradley on 0459 225399 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Obi Obi Valley, Kenilworth
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