TAKING a leap of faith into the unknown is nothing new for third-generation Innisfail farmer Sam Reitano, who is wearing his heart on his sleeve as he attempts to find love on national television.
The 28-year-old cane and fruit farmer is appearing on the current season of the popular reality show 'Farmer Wants a Wife,' screening on Channel 7.
Sam is a third-generation cane grower, who farms alongside his father and grandfather who bought their 80 hectare property at Garradunga, just north of Innisfail in 1968.
Planning for the future and chasing his dreams not only landed him on the tv show, but has been part of a monumental shift in the family's farming practices.
Sam said with the volatile and uncertain sugar industry, the family had decided to diversify some 15 years ago.
But rather than opt for the ordinary, they decided to grow the tropical fruit achachairu, which is native to Bolivia and similar to a mangosteen.
Sam said it had taken the last 10 years to establish the tropical fruit business - and it had not been without its challenges with two cyclones hitting the region in that time.
"We're trying to expand, things financially are very hard with sugar prices so low, but establishing something new that nearly no-one else in Australia has really done is very costly," Sam said.
"We try to grow organically as well, we've been growing organic for the last 15 years and we've still got cane on one side of the farm.
"In the future we plan to one day grow only tropical fruit, cane is on the way out and there is not much future for my generation, it's just getting harder and harder.
"Like I told the girls, it's not just sunshine and rainbows on the farm, it is hard work and people in the cities don't understand that.
"People are walking off the land, not because they want to, but they just couldn't continue. It's getting harder and harder."
Sam said it took about five years for the trees to produce fruit and they got their first crop off three years ago.
They currently have 1000 trees and harvested about 7-8 tonnes last season, which were sent to markets in Sydney and Melbourne.
Sam said they hoped to plant another 700 trees in the next few months.
"Hopefully in the future it will be the whole farm, with 16,000 trees."
As one of only two achachairu growers in Australia, with the other based just south of Townsville, Sam said marketing the fruit was challenging.
"The hard part is getting people to know about it and get the fruit's name out there."
On his quest for love, Sam said it was difficult to find a partner in the Far North, with most younger people opting to move to the big smoke as soon as they finished school.
And he was up for a relationship with more substance than what may have arisen should he duck up to Cairns for a night at Gilligans.
Sam said the city girls were shocked to find that Innisfail wasn't out in the sticks.
"They were shocked because they thought I was in a more remote area, with just a pub and a post office, but I said 'nah, we've got Kmart here'... and Coles is only ten minutes from the house."
While not giving away whether a suitor had stolen his heart, Sam said there were definitely girls who were 'wife potential' and the choice got harder toward the end.
But should he remain single at the end of the series, Sam knows what he's looking for.
"Someone that has a good sense of humour, bubbly, full of energy and wants to have fun, a positive girl too, someone who makes you feel good."
Sam said the show was an eyeopener, but overall a good experience.
"We had a lot of fun and the girls enjoyed themselves too.
"I would recommend to anyone who wants to give it a go, not just to meet someone or a potential wife, but I became good friends with other farmers, producers and cameramen, it was just a good memorable experience."