Belli Park-based Hinterland Feijoas has now been certified as the only Australian organic farmer of the feijoa fruit beloved of New Zealanders.
The producer, an affiliate of the growing Seasons of the Sun group which is backed by Sunshine Coast Council, has been awarded organic-in-conversion status.
Hinterland Feijoas owner Sally Hookey said the certification has coincided with the opening of her and partner Peter Heineger’s Belli Park farm to the public.
“This is wonderful news, but we have already been farming organically,” she said.
“It’s a three-year process to receive organic certification: at the end of the first year if your soil and produce are cleared you are provisionally certified; you can sell as certified organic-in-conversion at the end of two years after being audited – and you are audited every year from there.”
Ms Hookey said feijoas originated in South America but are a huge favourite and staple in New Zealand, and are coming into their peak season now.
“People are coming from as far as the Gold Coast especially to see us; they will book accommodation or set up a picnic to make a day of it – this is a big tourism business – these are people who grew up with feijoas,” she said.
Ms Hookey is holding back some of her stock for the huge Regional Flavours food and beverage show at Brisbane’s South Bank in July, as she heard of the Sunshine Coast’s big impact there last year.
“I’d run out of stock last year by the time the show was on, but I’m not going to miss out this year,” she said.
Hinterland Feijoas was a finalist in the 2011 Sunshine Coast Excellence in Business Awards and the 2011 16th Annual Sunshine Coast Environmental Council Awards: the “Froggies”, both awards recognising their work in creating an environmentally sustainable farm business.