Business as usual after floods

REAL GROWTH INDUSTRY: Treviso radicchio grower Darren Howard of the Lockyer Valley.
REAL GROWTH INDUSTRY: Treviso radicchio grower Darren Howard of the Lockyer Valley.

IT'S hard to believe Lockyer Valley grower Darren Howard's property was up to four metres under water during the floods in January 2011.

But with true country resilience and a lot of hard work, family business Lake Howard Farms has continued to plant and harvest vegetables - as it has been doing for the best part of 45 years.

Darren, parents Arnold and Janice and partner Rebecca produce the distinctive specialty lettuce Treviso radicchio between May and October.

When the 2011 floodwaters receded - within a day of evacuating - the Howards swung into action. Much of the 60 hectare property had to be laser levelled to recoup topsoil and soil washed away.

Despite the damage, the rain filled the farm's underground aquifers, providing enough water for a five year supply.

"After 10 years of prolonged drought, it's a relief to know we have enough water for five years," Darren said.

Darren knew nothing about growing or eating Treviso radicchio when he started producing it for Perfection Fresh in 2006, but with a long tradition of vegetable growing, Lake Howard Farms quickly added it to its portfolio.

"Treviso definitely has an acquired taste and can be a bit of surprise to first-timers but if you're looking for something different to add a bit of bite and dramatic colour to dishes, give it a go," he said.

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