Border closures shine spotlight on Southern Downs producers
FOR most commuters from Brisbane to the Southern Downs, Aratula is a guaranteed stop in their road trip.
As travel restrictions halted the trip for many, roadside businesses and their Warwick contributors were among the first to feel the hit.
At Aratula markets, owner Alf Turrisi said he, like many, was forced to reduce hours and staff as the pandemic took hold across the state but was hopeful about the road map to recovery.
“For all of us, Aratula is the midpoint just before Brisbane that everyone stops at but with no one travelling, our business was severely affected by coronavirus,” Mr Turrisi said.
“There’s a big flow-on effect. If cafes and restaurants are doing less trade, I’m buying less stock and farmers are selling less.
“We have commercial growers but also niche growers who have very distinct produce that they can’t sell to the general public because they won’t buy these higher end items.”
Mr Turrisi’s Stanthorpe business remained steady as the region turned its trust to homegrown produce.
“It (coronavirus) has certainly shone a light on the fresh fruit and veg grown here and I only hope people can remember that when it passes,” he said.
Allora free-range farmer Tim Somes, whose saving grace during the crisis had been his new contactless delivery, agreed and hoped the metropolitan “spotlight” would remain on Australian producers.
“It was one positive out of coronavirus,” Mr Somes said.
“People became very interested in the providence of food and also became very mindful of what was Australian grown and made.
“I think when you saw the international borders close down, the importance of our national supply of food was brought to the fore.”
Bringing forward the launch of his farm’s website on the back of a 30 per cent decrease in wholesale, Mr Somes said the future of farming would change in light of the pandemic.
“It didn’t make up for the demand from restaurants and cafes but it definitely helped, ” he said.
“We’ve had everything thrown at us during the past 12 months – I had a friends say all we have to wait for is the locust plague – but in tough times all you can do is adapt.”
To support Mr Somes, head to eggcettera.com/ shop