An Esperance farmer has opened his 108-acre property to aspiring market gardeners wishing to capitalise on the growing local food movement.
Brad McMeikan bought Daly Downs just over a decade ago and he said he had been developing parts of the property to the point where it would be ready for people to share the workload or lease a plot of land.
“I’ve reached a stage now where the scale of the land I have developed is reaching a community level and it’s time to unite a few of the like-minded people in the community and get them involved,” he said.
“Only recently, I have discovered enough water sources to say I can make it work.
“All of a sudden, we have ticked the boxes and I’ve also got about 3500sqm of land prepared and ready to grow stuff on and it’s more than one man can do.”
The farm is largely bush and is a Land for Wildlife-listed property, where native animals and their habitat are highly valued.
Mr McMeikan said he had identified about 32 acres of alluvial ground on either side of a river cutting through the property, which lended itself to organically grown food. “I didn’t buy this place to do market gardening, it just so happened I identified land I thought was suitable,” he said.
“The land is easily divided and there are about 16 different beds all separately watered, so it’s just a case of splitting them up.
“Some people have the desire and passion to do this sort of thing, but don’t have the land to do it on, so I’m offering that opportunity to someone who may want to make a career out of it.”
Aspiring market gardeners will be able to lease a plot of land, but there will also be opportunities to take part in share farming and volunteering. Mr McMeikan said there was a strong following in the local growers market, with more people looking for food with a local provenance.
“Esperance is crying out for a place that can have a continuity of supply on some sort of scale,” he said.
“It needs more produce on a regular basis and that is the gap I think you could fill with something like I am developing here, which is a bigger scale than backyard stuff.
“Hopefully we will have lots of fresh locally grown food for people who want to buy it.”