Bauer's Farm organic approach works as Farm Gate opens
MT SYLVIA farmer Rob Bauer speaks of organic vegetables with all the zeal of a convert.
Rob refuses to use chemicals on the fruit and vegetables he grows, calling it "poisoned food".
Over 10 years ago, Rob was just another farmer who sprayed his produce with chemicals when he had a road to Damascus moment.
"I was not enjoying the poisons and feeling a bit crook myself," Rob said.
"I was also seeing farmers all around me dying before their time of leukaemia.
"These were my neighbours and they were dying in their 50s."
Rob said he was determined to live beyond his 50s and decided to banish the weedicides and fungicides from his operation.
"These chemicals were designed in Germany before the war to kill people and now in smaller doses were killing insects," he said.
Rob turned towards an organic operation and now, 10 years down the track, has been rewarded with a brand that is known across Australia and the world.
When asked how he now stops pests eating crops, he said it was a matter of balance between animals and the pests they feed on.
"They (the animals) have to have somewhere where they can have their babies," he said.
Rob said he was fortunate to follow four generations of farmers in the region.
"The Lockyer Valley has some of the best soil in the world," he said.
Rob said the quality of the soil was helped by two different rock types in the region with basalt volcanic rock underlayed by sandstone.
"It's a natural environment perfected over thousands of years," he said.
Rob now hopes to spread his message of organic farming to the world with his joint operation, Farmgate Packing Facility, on an old mushroom farm.
The organic farmgate is a joint venture of the Bauer family with Blue Mountains salesman Nick Miall and Googa Organic Farms of Blackbutt forming one of the nation's largest organic suppliers and together they celebrated the opening of their new Helidon facility.
Rob said the new packing shed would enable more expansion for all the growers in the Organic Farmgate group.
"We've been pre-packaging for 10 years out of Nolan's Depot, but we've outgrown that area," Rob said.
"Now we can cut pumpkin and pre-pack avocados, tomatoes, asparagus, carrots, potatoes and other fruit and veg."
Rob said Bauer's Organic Farm and Googa Organic Farms had been working with other growers from around the country.
"We plan, grow and supply a range of certified organic produce and then supply the local market, processors and even export," he said.
"Keeping it local has also been a great boom for employment in the area, with dozens of people working at peak times to grade, pack and distribute across the country."
Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones congratulated Bauer's Organic Farms on the opening of the new facility.
"I am extremely pleased to see Farmgate Packing open in this region," Cr Jones said.