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Byron Shire
May 15, 2021

The big gardeners bringing the good goods to markets

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Kenrick says that most farmers are just big gardeners at heart.

Story & photo Melissa Butters

Maree and Kenrick at Wiccawood supply certified organic vegetables, edible flowers and stunningly beautiful herb curry packs to the Mullumbimby markets. They enjoy creating a shared conversation around growing your own garden and have the customers’ best interests at heart.

Kenrick grew up as an outback kid on a Queensland sheep station. He met his wife, Maree, while working as a cadet journalist, and went on to spend ten years as a rural advisor for the Queensland Government.

Every time they have moved house, the couple have developed a large veggie garden at their new property. Maree researches organic gardening principles, which they then put into practice. They generously share their food with neighbours and workmates.

Back in 1993 they bought a degraded dairy farm at Georgica in the Northern Rivers with the aim of growing food commercially. Maree taught sculpture at Southern Cross University, while Kenrick commuted to work in Brisbane, built a farmhouse and learned how to plough.

They began by selling mulch from their recovering pasture paddocks. As more ‘foodies’ became interested in the subtropical crops they were experimenting with, their business expanded.

They now supply 70 herbs and vegetables over the seasons. The couple protect their produce from the impact of climate change by adapting their methods.

‘Some of our hardy annual herbs, like lemon sorrel, we now have to cover with temporary shade cloth during the hotter months – something we’ve never had to do before,’ says Kenrick.

Keen to pass on his knowledge as a way of giving back, Kenrick encourages people to grow their own. ‘Every gardener should save their own seeds. Choose a couple of the healthiest plants, let them go to seed, and collect them for next year’s crop. This constant genetic improvement will help develop plants that can adapt to a changing climate.’

Kenrick loves chatting to customers at the markets. ‘Most farmers are just big gardeners at heart!’

The New Brighton Farmers Market is on every Tuesday, 8am–11am, and the Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday, 7am–11am.

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