Cash in backyard produce

EcoMart director Effie Ablett (left) with Elke (13), and Eve (9) Howell and their mum Jenny Stonier enjoying the natural benefits of sustainable home-grown food.
EcoMart director Effie Ablett (left) with Elke (13), and Eve (9) Howell and their mum Jenny Stonier enjoying the natural benefits of sustainable home-grown food. Marc Stapelberg

CAN’T eat all of the pumpkins growing in your backyard?

Neither could Alstonville woman Jenny Stonier, so she decided to get involved with EcoMart Northern Rivers Co-op.

“This year we planted a pumpkin patch to stop the (creek) bank eroding, and it has produced a huge number of pumpkins,” she said.

“We used to give away all of our excess fruit and vegetables.

“But now we can sell it through EcoMart.”

Her family grows a huge variety of fresh produce on their property, including potatoes, spring onions and pineapples.

“We live in a place where there is so much water and sunshine,” Ms Stonier said.

“It’s crazy to be importing food from areas where irrigation is harming the environment.

“EcoMart is a chance to support local producers rather than the large supermarket chains.

“Plus it results in minimising food miles and you get much fresher produce.”

EcoMart Northern Rivers has been going since October last year and the group is now looking for more producers to get involved.

The co-op’s director, Effie Ablett, said they wanted to be able to provide a full range of groceries.

“We can do it with dribs and drabs – it all adds up,” she said.

“You can just supply one pumpkin a year if you want.

“One of the great things for shoppers is that when you go online, you can find out all the details about that pumpkin – how it was grown and where it came from.

“It’s a really unique system.”

Once an item is bought, it is taken to the EcoMart sorting centre and then vol- unteers organise “pick-up days” at places in Lismore, Alstonville and Ballina.

It is hoped there will soon be pick-up locations in Lennox Head, Byron Bay and Nimbin.

“People want local produce,” Ms Ablett said.

“The co-op handles anything grown or made locally in the Northern Rivers.

“Certified biodynamic or organic, naturally grown and conventionally grown produce are all available along with meat, eggs, seedlings, candles, soap and craft items.”

For more information or to get involved, visit or phone 6628 3305.

Topics:  fruit and veg

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