Local vegetable farmer Bill Ward is working to open his farm to the public to educate locals.
Local vegetable farmer Bill Ward is working to open his farm to the public to educate locals. Valerie Horton

A farmer's strive to change 'I want it right now' mentality

A MARYBOROUGH vegetable farmer is planning to open his farm to the public in a bid to educate and reconnect locals with the farming community.

Bill Ward has lived on his Maryborough farm for sixteen years and knows all too well the hardships of life on a farm.

"A lot of people sort of have the notion that vegetables don't take time to grow and the society we live in is very much 'I want it and I want it right now',” Mr Ward said.

"Half of the kids today have no idea how veggies are grown - it's a problem that I see with our whole community, losing touch with the farming community.”

Mr Ward is working to close the gap between the community and farmers by allowing the public to see the process from the crop to the market, and the struggles farmers face.

"Some people can get blase' about things and we are trying to get people out on the farm so they can have a look and see how we grow crops and look after the land,” he said.

"The benefit is basically cheaper, fresher vegetables, and education, as people will probably start to grow vegetables for themselves in their own backyards.

"It's just a matter of reconnecting people with their vegetables and how they are grown so that they are not getting all these misconceptions that are put out there by people with their own agenda.”

The project would see the family sell fresh produce from their farm, picked on the day or the day before, three days a week.

"We would have to have enough produce to sell three days a week. We are expanding the farm and working on having more variety available,” he said.

"As long as the rain keeps coming that is the goal.”

The Ward family is still bearing the brunt of a dry spell that left their 80 million litre dam almost bone dry.

"When a farmer runs out of water to grow crops there is nowhere else to go,” he said. "It is quite difficult because we are trying to do this as well as doing what we already do, as farming is very much hands-on.

"Every time we get a timeline to do this we get something like a drought.”

Despite the setbacks, he's optimistic the farm will be ready for community access.

"Once we can get to a stage in our development we are going to ask the community for volunteers to come out and actually help on the farm,” Mr Ward said.

"We talk to a lot of people at the markets, and a lot of them are off the land and a lot of people would like nothing more than to spend a few hours on the farm to reconnect.”

The motivator came about after Mr Ward and his family experienced the havoc of the 2013 floods which led to many empty supermarket shelves.

"We have fresh produce only a few kilometres away in case of any future disasters where food can't be delivered.”



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