15 Nov, 2019

Building a locavore movement: supporting local producers on the Sunshine Coast


Did you know that almost a quarter of the strawberries grown in Queensland are grown on the Sunshine Coast? In fact, an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables and other items are grown right here, in our own backyard.

And with a variety of options for purchasing local, from farm gate sales to farmers markets and online ordering, there’s never been a better time to support our local growers.

With rich soils and more than 300 days of sunshine a year, the Sunshine Coast is blessed with ideal growing conditions for many of the fresh foods we love to eat, with more than 900 agricultural businesses contributing to our diversity of produce.

Locally grown foods

Just taking a stroll through one of the local farmers markets is an eye-opener to the incredible array of lush, fresh foods produced by our local farmers.

Foods grown locally include:

  • Berries including strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
  • Fruit including mandarins, oranges, mangoes, pineapples, avocadoes, passionfruit, custard apples, lychees and bananas
  • Vegetables: A wide range of vegetables: zucchini, kale, silverbeet, mushrooms, chard, cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, squash, shallots, chilli, cabbage, cucumber and eggplant.
  • Salad greens, various types of lettuce and Asian greens
  • Specialty produce including finger limes, ginger, turmeric, vanilla, coffee, fresh herbs, microgreens and edible flowers.
  • There’s also a burgeoning tomato growing industry here, with our climate offering perfect conditions for year-round production.

The benefits of buying local

You may have heard the term “locavore” used by famous chefs on television cooking shows. It’s a bit of a buzzword at the moment but for good reason. “Locavore” refers to a person who only eats food grown in their local area.

The locavore movement is increasingly influential as more people commit to supporting local farmers, reducing food miles and embracing the many other benefits of eating locally grown food:

  • Support local growers and families (and small scale farming)
  • Reduce food miles (lower greenhouse gas emissions)
  • Buy food in season (more nutrient-dense)
  • It’s fresher due to the shorter time from paddock to plate
  • A wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables are grown locally
  • More organic options, fewer chemicals
  • Convenience - markets, online and delivery options, independent stores
  • It tastes better
  • The ability to purchase without plastic or packaging

White’s IGA supermarkets champion a locavore culture by offering a diverse range of fresh, locally sourced products. Co-founder Roz White says there are benefits for everyone when we source foods locally.

“The consumer is offered the freshest and highest quality product, the environment is better off with low footprint food, and buying locally stimulates and sustains the local economy, providing local families with better opportunities and a secure future,” Roz said.

Adam Jones from Figtree Farm Organics says that supporting smaller, local producers means fresher produce and more options.

“Many supermarket chains hold produce for months in cold storage. Often our produce is picked the day before sale. Smaller farms will also grow more unusual varieties so the customer can try something they’ve never seen before,” he said.

For Mick Dan from Good Harvest Organic Farm, which sells locally grown organic produce online and at farmers markets, says better taste and the health benefits differentiate locally grown food from that sold in most mainstream supermarkets.

“Local food is fresh and in season. When it is winter, our bodies crave winter vegetables; in summer time, it’s more about salads and light stuff. Buying local supports your body being in tune with the seasons,” he said.

Making the switch

With a continued increase in demand for local food, it’s great to know there are a range of convenient options that make it easy to switch from mainstream supermarket shopping to buying local.

Online orderingIf shopping is not your thing, take advantage of the local online ordering and delivery services (see our list below). Most companies offer several options including set seasonal weekly or fortnightly boxes, or build-your-own from a list of in season produce. Some require you to sign up for a recurring order while others allow ad hoc orders. Most have a regular delivery schedule so be sure to check delivery dates before placing an order.

“Home delivery as an alternative to a centralised purchasing hub can cut consumer travel down to one fifth,” says Ben McKeown from Freshbox, which sources 80% of their produce within a 100km radius of the Sunshine Coast. “Not to mention the thousands of kilometres saved the further each item goes from farm to transport depot, to wholesaler, to retailer then to consumer home, all the while losing nutrients every day.”

Farmers marketsWe are lucky to have several vibrant local farmers markets where you can relax, indulge the senses and get your hands on some tasty local produce as well as other items like meats, cheeses, olives and fresh-baked breads…not to mention delicious breakfasts!

Many stalls include signs on their products indicating the growing location. Often, the growers are selling direct and are happy to talk about their farming practices - if you’re lucky, you might even get a recipe or two!

Check out our guide to local farmers markets in the guide below.

Independent supermarkets and grocersMany smaller fruit and vegetable stores, cooperatives and independent supermarkets such as White’s IGA support local growers. Don’t be afraid to ask where their produce is grown and whether they have a policy of supporting local farmers.

The Living Smart guide to buying local produce

Feel Good Food Boxes (online) Sallie Francis from Feel Good Food Boxes is on a mission to make fresh, seasonal, ethical, organic food accessible to everyone. Recognising that not everyone can afford to buy organic, chemical-free fruit and vegetables, several different pricing tiers are offered, with market value subscriptions subsidising boxes for lower income families.

Freshbox (online)Freshbox offers home delivery for fruit, vegetables and specialty items such as bread, eggs and nuts. With a think globally, act locally approach to systems and practices, Freshbox purchases only organic produce and encourages regenerative practices on supplier farms. Home or office delivery available.

Good Harvest Organic Farm (online and farmers markets) Good Harvest family farms in Woombye and Ninderry offer curated seasonal organic boxes for weekly or fortnightly delivery or choose what you like from their extensive organic farm gate selection. Deliveries take place every Friday or visit Mick and the team at the Noosa, Kawana Waters and Marcoola Farmers markets.

The Falls Farm (online and some farm gate sales) A family-run farm in Maleny, offering wholesale and retail organic seasonal produce, selling only what they grow. Choose from a range of veggie boxes or customise your order. Weekly orders close at 4pm on Sundays in time for picking Monday morning.

Shambhala Farm (online and farmers markets) A small farm with a big heart, Shambhala Farm grows nutrient-rich produce with natural farming methods in 10 acres of fertile soil in Doonan in the Noosa Hinterland. Up to 50 varieties of leafy greens and vegetables are available seasonally. Sign up for a regular FarmBox delivered to your door or visit their team at the farmers markets.

Figtree Farm Organics (famers markets) Adam Jones and his family have been working Figtree Farm near Gympie since 2014 with a focus on leafy greens sweet potatoes, snow peas, beans, microgreens, passionfruit and some citrus. They also support an extensive network of local organic produce growers, selling weekly at the Kawana Waters and Noosa Farmers Markets.

Berry Sweet Gourmet (farmers markets) Freshly picked blueberries, raspberries, figs, dragon fruit and passionfruit produced on the family owned farm in the Glasshouse Mountains. Berry Sweet Gourmet uses chemical free growing methods. Get your berry fix at the Kawana Waters or Noosa Farmers Markets.

Sandy Creek Organic FarmA community supported agriculture farm in the Glasshouse Mountains near Beerwah, supplying certified organic produce. Weekly veggie boxes are available for a monthly or seasonal subscription.

Crystal Organics Farm, Palmwoods Certified organic market garden farm growing leafy greens, herbs, Asian greens and more. Some farm gate sales (check hours before visiting). 46 Chevallum Road, Palmwoods

The Greenshed (farm gate sales, some stores) Chemical free herbs, edible flowers, sprouts, microgreens, herbs and vegetable seedlings. Farm gate open Monday to Saturday (check hours before visiting). 96 Cheviot Road Palmwoods

Independent stores

White’s IGA With five supermarkets across the region, White’s IGA buys direct from farms and local agents that source local products. Keep an eye out for the local logo as your ticket to purchasing a quality Sunshine Coast produced product. Stores are located in Bli Bli, Mooloolah, Mount Coolum, Peregian Beach and Baringa

Maleny IGAPromoting, supporting and selling a large range of locally produced goods. Their blue ticket system makes it easy to identify items that have been grown or produced in the local region. Open 6am - 9pm daily. 26 Maple Street, Maleny

Maple Street Co-op, MalenyHealth food shop that also sells locally produced fruit, vegetables and other products. Open Monday to Sunday 37 Maple Street, Maleny

Jeffers' Market A local institution in Yandina, Jeffers' Market sells a wide range of local produce and deli type items. Open Monday to Saturday. 1/14 Farrell Street, Yandina

BFresh Café Deli MarketSome locally grown produce in the marketplace. Also, check out the café which uses many local ingredients. Open 7 days a week. 239 Nicklin Way, Warana

Grub OrganicsA haven for lovers of raw, real and whole foods, Grub Organics carries a range of fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Open 7 days a week. 20c Timari Street, Pacific Paradise

Frocals (online and instore) Serving up produce from local farmers via a store in Kings Beach and pop up café in Caloundra. Sign up to Club Frocals for a weekly order of fresh, local produce. Create your profile, set your budget and pick up on your chosen day from the Kings Beach store. Kings Beach store open 6am to 6pm daily, Corner De Vene Ave and Ormonde Terrace.

Farmers Country Markets

Kawana Waters Farmers MarketEvery Saturday 6am - midday Kawana Waters State College, Sportsmans Parade, Bokarina

Noosa Farmers MarketEvery Sunday 6am - midday 155 Weyba Road, Noosaville

Yandina Country MarketsEvery Saturday 6am - midday North Street, Yandina

Fishermans Road Markets Every Sunday from 6am - midday Corner Fishermans Road and David Low Way, Maroochydore

Marcoola Farmers MarketEvery Saturday from 8am 10 Lorraine Avenue, Marcoola

Witta Market7am - 12 pm, 3rd Saturday of the month 316 Witta Road, Witta

Crystal Waters Country Market8am - 1pm first Saturday of the month (except January) 65 Kilcoy Lane, Conondale

Mapleton Country Markets8am - 12pm 4th Saturday of the month Mapleton Hall and Sportsground, 31 Obi Obi Road, Mapleton

Currimundi Country MarketsA range of stalls including fruit and vegetables, crafts, books and second hand clothing. 7am - 12 noon every Saturday Currimundi School, 17 Buderim Street Currimundi.

Ask the question: is this local?

Whether you’re dining out at a local restaurant or café, arranging catering for work, or even if you work in the hospitality industry, never underestimate the power of asking “is this local produce?”

The good news is that it is becoming increasingly easy for chefs to embrace and support local food through distributors like FoodXS. And by asking local businesses the question, we let them know that supporting local growers is important to us.

One business that is supporting the local food story is Homegrown café, Palmwoods - check out our story on how Homegrown is slashing waste and supporting the local ecosystem.

Know of another local business we should include in this guide? Please let us know by contacting the Living Smart team sustainability@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.

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