Zac was brought up in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia on the family sheep and wheat property. Zac’s short life as a farmer ended at the age of 12 when he went off to boarding school, a time that tragically coincided with the sudden death of his Dad, which saw Zac and his family leave the farm for good. Twenty plus years later Zac decided he wanted to ‘have a crack’ at farming – which suits perfectly because being his own boss and working within nature are, in fact, his true calling.
So in August 2013 Zac courageously relocated his young family across the country to start a business in a field largely unknown to him – organic sweet potato growing (he barley ate the product, let alone know how to produce large quantities).
Zac’s way of learning is through practice, that is, getting his hands in and amongst the action. So within a week of landing in Queensland Zac bought a Case tractor and started preparing the land for his first ever sweet potato crop. Zac gave himself a vague level of education on how to farm through a few YouTube videos, the rest of his knowledge he acquired through trial and error, ‘gut feeling’, and the mentoring of long-time grower Anthony Bauer (of Bauer’s Organic Farm – Queensland’s largest producer of vegetables – and the best ever carrots, organic since 1989).
Anika was brought up in Canberra where she left at the age of twenty-five to travel Europe. Within the first 3 months of being abroad she met Zac in Egypt. After living in London and travelling Europe together for almost 9 months both Anika and Zac made their way to Perth, Zac’s home town.
The tragic loss of Anika’s mum in May 2012 shifted perspective, and living a life full of purpose and meaning became all the more important, as life can end suddenly – this was made sorely apparent. So after daydreaming of the ‘perfect’ life Anika saw mainly open spaces and free-range kids. The idea of farming seemed perfect – adventurous and wholesome. A chat with her 80-year-old self confirmed that the idea was by far the best choice, because living a life of adventure and uncertainty seemed far more fitting than a life of stability and solid-routine.
Anika is that support role that won’t give up, finding her way into all tasks held in the home and the office, and loves to get her hands amoungst the action at the farm. Her favourite ‘task’ being the farmers market where she gets to fulfil her part of the farming dream, and that is selling good quality organic produce at affordable prices, making organic food attainable to everyone.
Darcy was a big part of the pivotal moment, the moment where Anika realised that country living was most probably the best idea for the survival of the family. Darcy has always had a quick step and a super-active mind, making the confides of the city a little exhausting and claustrophobic. Seeing his relaxed and happy demeanor while visiting a friend’s farm made it obvious that farming (or anything outdoors) was most likely Darcy’s future.
When Darcy turned three his trusting (crazy) parents decided that he was ready enough to be left at the farm without the watchful eye of his Mum. So he would spend his entire day at the farm, most likely latching on to a backpacker – weeding, packing or picking (and talking, a lot). He still spends as much time as he can at the farm and it a legitimate help. And one day, he wants to be a dairy farmer (but only if his Dad does it alongside him).
Olivia was a 7-month old baby when the family arrived in the Lockyer Valley. She enjoys all parts of the farm, but prefers to be in the packing shed, wearing rubber gloves and a pretty dress. She likes being the button controller on the sweet potato washer and is really good at hosing things down. Riding her bike and playing in the dam are two other favourites. She has always been a lover of the dirt, and in her older years (that is, the ripe age of 3) has had opinion about her dress code – so we now have a stash of farm dresses she roam free in (because short and trousers are simply not allowed).
Nathan quit his fulltime job at the beginning of 2013 to start working on the farm with the intention of setting up a market stall in Brisbane’s only organic farmers market, Northey Street City Farm. Nathan was chasing freedom and flexibility within his work, and has always had a keen interest in horticulture and healthy living, and Anika always wanted to have a market stall selling the farm’s produce, so together they shared the same dream. In February 2013 Nathan and Anika debut their market stall and Nathan has been the farm’s constant at the market ever since – representing on every single Sunday morning (with a 2am start).
Although often mistaken for husband and wife, Nathan and Anika are a brother / sister team who really enjoy working the market together – because spending a Sunday morning with people who are enthusiastic about good quality, farm-fresh produce (and coffee) is definitely a highlight of farm life.
Nathan also distributes the farm’s produce to a few retailers around Brisbane. See the “Where we sell” page for further info.
Quentin came to visit the farm a few times before he made the bold decision to uproot his family and start a life as a farmer (sound familiar). Quentin is Zac’s older brother, so he shares the same childhood of being brought up on a sheep and wheat farm in WA’s Wheatbelt. That farm-life childhood and his DNA made farming an obvious choice for Quentin. It’s obvious if you remove reason and sensibility, because relocating your young family and wife from the comfort of Sydney to a rural life in Queensland is not an easy choice to make. It means leaving behind well-established friendships and family, secure and stable incomes, kids schools, friendship groups and sporting teams – basically the framework of your life. However, in January 2015 the decision had been made and the family relocated.
Quentin erected 5 greenhouse sheds on the farm and started his own entity – Sunup Farm. Although on the same property, Quentin and Zac farm separately, but remain to be the lending-hand and beer-drinking buddy for each another.
Remarkably when researching farm properties, this one located in the Lockyer Valley, a short drive from Brisbane, came up. it is remarkable because it is close to Brisbane where Anika’s family had relocated from Canberra. So coincidently Anika was reunited with her family, even when the search for a farm extended to the whole of Australia, not Queensland (and not the Brisbane region). So this twist of fate allows for Poppy and the family to spend more time together. Poppy now has a rural second-home away from the urban madness, spending considerable amounts of time as the unofficial farm hand / run-about. Poppy is the go-to man for maintenance and babysitting and is particularity good at assembling irrigation pipes. His African, farm-life upbringing means he can withstand the summer intensity, often being the last man standing (must have a touch of crazy in him). He is valued highly around the farm, and always has an interesting, mostly off-centre view on farming.
Dinei came to the farm at a particularly trying time, right before the devastating loss of the 2015 crop. Dinei’s duties of harvesting and packing sweet potatoes were cut to a sudden nothing. The forecast of his role had been taken away with the non-existent crop. But, Dinei showed promising signs of truly fitting in to the farm family so another role was quickly forged, and has proven to be a very wise decision.
Dinei was brought up on a rural property in Brazil and came to Australia in 2008 where he worked on farms ever since. Dinei’s upbringing saw him working hard from a very early age – with his work ethic well established before he hit his teens. Dinei is not shy of hard work, and always has an endearing smile (even in the ridiculous heat, bent over a row of weeds).
Dinei met his Australian wife, Sarah, on a banana farm in Lakeland, Qld. They now have two small children (and two friends for Darcy and Olivia).