News

From no experience to a thriving business

By Jamie Salter

Nina Meiers’ life changed forever when she and her husband Andrew packed up and moved from the city to a property in Barjarg.

Mr Meiers was sick and tired of sitting in traffic for hours on end as a tradesman, and decided to become a farmer.

The land they bought had never been farmed before, and had no power and water — but the couple was determined to turn it into a blueberry farm.

Four years on, Bimbimbi Farm is now a thriving business.

Mr Meiers’ family were passionfruit growers in Queensland, but the couple was unprepared for the volatile climate of Barjarg, near Mansfield.

“The wind here is so harsh with no tree breaks, we now have one greenhouse and we will be getting more to modify how we grow blueberries,” Mrs Meiers said.

The couple lost 3000 blueberry plants from frost three years ago, but this year hopes to grow 5000 plants in grow-bags in the greenhouse and in the field.

While the initial plan was to be blueberry farmers, strawberries are grown while the blueberry plants mature to commercial quantities.

The strawberries have been a hit, thanks to a no-waste approach, with less perfect strawberries being sold as ‘Organic Uglies’ — which are sought after by locals and are big sellers at the farmers’ markets they attend.

The business is now in the final year of organic certification and Mrs Meiers said her advice for farmers starting out was to apply as soon as possible.

At 60 years old, and having been a web developer since 1996, Mrs Meiers has abandoned thoughts of retirement and aims to continuously adapt how she grows her produce.

She believes there is a clear disconnect between farmers and the public, with much less money being spent on fresh food in Australia compared to other countries.

“When people have a lack of understanding of farming methods and how hard it is, they want to buy cheap food, rather than buy from a local greengrocer and support local business,” she said.

Discussing farming, food and health, and wrapping up with talks about technology, Mrs Meiers will host her ‘Farm Food Health’ radio show on 99.7FM from July, on Thursdays between 6 pm and 8 pm.