Clear air makes fresher produce

FAMILY AFFAIR: Nick Locke and young Evie understand the importance of growing organically.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Nick Locke and young Evie understand the importance of growing organically. Amy Walker

THE morning blur that is getting Miss Five ready for school, left me beyond ready for a quiet country drive.

As I passed patchworks of paddocks and carpets of green the road narrowed as it winded along the Freestone Valley, before climbing high amidst gum tree covered hills.

After 30km I arrived, relaxed and almost blown over by the clean air. The air up there was fresh. Scented with eucalyptus. But just so fresh. No wonder the produce tastes so good.

Nick Locke has been growing vegies up here for a while, making the daily commute from Warwick to tend to his crops, but recently moved here with his wife Renee and daughter Evie. Nick grew up on a farm just over the hill in the Maryvale area, where his dad and uncle had a mixed farming operation that focussed on vegetable growing.

"I vowed that I was never going to be a vegie farmer, but after trying welding and carpentry, I found myself experimenting with permaculture and before I knew it I was growing vegies in the backyard,” Nick laughed.

"I just love growing things. I love the science behind it. And to able to grow organically do make a positive difference both socially and environmentally is important.”

Nick is a big advocate for eating seasonally, when produce is freshly picked and tastes best.

"It's key, and it's an investment in your health and wellbeing now and in the future, particularly for your children,” he said.

"Once you've eaten what you've grown, or anything that's in season and freshly picked, you can't go back to store-bought - it is old, has no flavour, needs to be laden with salt or butter.

"No wonder children don't want to eat it.”

After a successful first season of growing garlic last year, Nick is hard at work expanding his plot into a commercial market garden that will produce a mix of vegetables.

Thanks to the property's location and organic certification, Nick also has a contract with Diggers for tomato and cucumber seeds.

"I'm really interested in the breeding of vegies, and in the seed development,” he said.

Nick currently supplies produce to the local Seasonal Feast Markets, Symara Organic Farm, The Summit, for their vegetable boxes (available for collection in Warwick weekly), and also heads down to Brisbane's Northey Street Organic Markets.

Produce soon to be harvested includes snow peas, shallots, baby carrots and tomatoes.

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