Regulars at local farmers’ markets would have noticed the bright red stall Jumping Red Ant, bursting with beautiful blooms and seasonal fruit and vegetables. If you’re wondering about the name of the stall, Duranbah (where the family farm is located), means ‘the place of the jumping red ant’.
John, Kathleen and Brianna Atkin have been farming since 1995 when they purchased their hobby farm and set out to make it a profitable business.
‘We weren’t farmers, we ran a fitness centre, so it was a huge learning curve. The farm was established and grew avocados and tomatoes. We originally sold these through a wholesaler but found it was never going to be profitable to operate this way, so we moved to selling directly at farmers’ markets,’ said John.
The family soon realised their clientele needed more variety, so drastically increased their range of crops, leased additional land, and of course, added their incredible flowers.
When expanding, they listened to marketgoers and chose produce that grew well locally, although even now if they receive a request for a niche fruit or vegetable they will give it a go. At the moment they are looking at poblano chillies from Mexico, which are smoky and served stuffed or chargrilled.
‘Our direction now is value-added products, to make sure our excess is used. Look out for chilli sauces, relish and eggplant kasundi, everything we do is spicy’, said John with a laugh.
Jumping Red Ant produce is organic and chemical-free. ‘We have invested heavily into the health of our soil, this gives you a better product that is more flavoursome. Everything we sell is super fresh and grown with love. We really believe when you’re shopping it’s important to know the farmer who grows your food’.
‘We also have a really great team of staff who have been with us a long time, they work in all kinds of weather to grow amazing produce we are all so proud of’.
When asked what John picks to eat at home the answer isn’t surprising: ‘Chillies. They’re my favourite and they go into everything I cook. That’s the little bit of Italian in me’.
Jumping Red Ant are at New Brighton Farmers Market on Tuesdays 8–11am and Mullumbimby Farmers Market on Fridays 7–11am.