A NEW breed of first-generation farmers is emerging in North Queensland as more people choose to ditch their office jobs in favour of life on the land.
Husband and wife team Daniel and Leanne Cordner gave up well-paying jobs as a FIFO mine worker and microbiologist two years ago and bought a 140 acre property in the Hinchinbrook Shire.
The couple have maintained the original cane crop, and expanded into chicken farming, building an abattoir to produce and process free-range Sommerlad poultry.
Mr Cordner said a desire to know where their food was coming from and how it was produced was spurring a new generation of farmers to ditch city life and make a living off the land.
“The measure of success was how big was the bank account and it was not really a very fulfilling life,” Mr Cordner said.
With two young daughters, Adele, now 6 and Hayley, 4, Mr Cordner wanted a more family orientated lifestyle than what FIFO work could provide.
While the couple had dabbled with a vegie patch and had a few backyard chooks, they had no background or experience in farming when they moved, to the Hinchinbrook property which they named Bellasato on Christmas Eve 2015.
And while the move hasn’t been without its challenges, they haven’t looked back.
“The abbatoir is now fully operational and we are processing birds through the abattoir,” Mr Cordner said.
The couple process about 100-150 birds a month and sell them directly from the farm gate to residents from as far afield as Townsville and Cardwell.
They also sell at the Yungaburra and Cotter’s Markets once a month and have provided birds to A Touch of Salt restaurant in Townsville.
They produce about 4000 tonne of cane annually, which is grown on fields fertalised with chicken manure, and are looking to expand both their chicken and cane production.
While the move has not been without it’s challenges, Mr Cordner said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Family is fully behind us but I think they secretly think we’re a little bit crazy,” Mr Cordner said.
“We looked at it and thought about it for along time and asked ourselves if someone gave you $10 million and said go off and do whatever you want… this is what we wanted to do.
“Spending the days with the kids, they just love it, coming out helping when they want to.”
For others looking to get into farming, Mr Cordner has this advice.
“Surround yourself with people who have done it and are still doing it in the industry .Go and spend time working on their farm, make sure you know exactly what it is, and take the plunge.”