BUSINESS BLOOM: Farm plans to plant after drought closure
SEEDS of hope are being planted on the Granite Belt where a combination of rain and water donations are helping Sharon's Farm Fresh Flowers get back on their feet.
The flower farm was forced to stop water supply to their crop in October, issuing a public statement that declared "it was either them or us."
A story featured on the Stanthorpe Border Post drew attention to the plight of Sharon Norton and her family, prompting Granite Belt Drought Assist to offer assistance.
GBDA have worked together with Carlton United Breweries for several months, connecting recycled water from Australia's largest brewery to struggling farmers on the Southern Downs.
The flower farm was assessed for its suitability for the program last week and Mrs Norton is beginning to get excited.
"They might be able to donate up to 120,000L of water in about eight weeks time," she said.
"Together with this lovely drop we're getting at the moment, we will start preparing our rows in readiness to plant.
"If we get that water we can finally start producing again!"
The barren beds took a mental and financial toll on the family over the last couple of months, forcing Mrs Foster to seek work off-farm.
"I was grateful I found a job but being the only one to support the whole family was hard," she said.
"We have to live week-to-week and watch every dollar.
"Planting again will make everything a lot easier, it'll give my family a reason to get out of bed in the morning, it'll be a boost to our positivity, and hopefully we're going to be able to employ somebody to sell the flowers with me."
GBDA organiser Glenda Riley said the growth of employment opportunities would signal a return to normalcy for the region.
"If the farm hands and the hospitality people start to pick up a bit more work again we'd all start to feel a lot more confident," Ms Riley said.
"Until then, the situation isn't going to change much."
As Mrs Foster and her family prepare the beds in anticipation she says she hopes all her old outlets in Warwick, Aratula, Stanthorpe and Brisbane will resume stocking her produce.
"We want to get back to farm gate sales and back in the Stanthorpe Piazza every Friday morning," she said.
"If everything goes ahead, it'll be fantastic."