A Far North Queensland family-owned horticulture enterprise that started growing a patch of cucumbers has grown ten-fold and diversified into a thriving paddock to plate vegetable business.
Produce from the Crystal Creek Plantation at Rollingstone, north of Townsville, is destined for local markets with owners Kerry Boswell and Sven Fehrenbacher picking and selling their vegetables directly to local customers.
Living and operating at their 40 hectare (100 acre) property called Rollingstone Ranch, the couple accessed a Sustainability Loan from the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority to purchase the land, which allowed them to be self-sufficient and diversify into new crops.
After years of dedication and hard work they now grow small crops including Asian vegetables, baby leaf spinach, kale, rocket, lettuce, bok choy, zucchini, cucumber and tomatoes.
They started growing a small patch of cucumbers on Sven's parents' farm eight years ago, expanding to be 10 times the size nowadays.
"We didn't have enough ground to grow all the crops we wanted to, - we needed more land and the only way we could do that was with the assistance of QRIDA," Ms Boswell said.
"Without that loan we wouldn't have been able to expand. We would have been at a standstill."
Ms Boswell said while the business was expanding, a lack of space on Sven's parents' property limited their options and the decision was made to buy their own farm.
"We found this one at about 2am on a Sunday morning on the way to market and we knew it was ours," she said.
"We've gone from a small 10-acre (four hectare) block to 100 acres (40ha) which is nice, and we have a lot of room to expand and fulfill our dreams.
"We could see ourselves here and we could see ourselves developing it into something."
Their new property allows plenty of opportunity to diversify into new crops, with the couple planning to move into the fruit tree market in the future.
"Now we have the extra land we can rotate our crops, rest the ground longer and grow cover crops. Through that we use less fertiliser and pesticide," Mr Fehrenbacher said.
The early Sunday morning trip to Townsville to the markets is still a constant for the pair, who are loyal to their local customers.
Mr Fehrenbacher said the decision to only supply to local markets meant they were able to grow to meet demand and enjoy the benefits of higher returns on their produce.
"You can control your own market and you're not relying on a second or third party," he said.
"We grow for what the market can handle, and we can see what it handles every week as we see it firsthand."
Ms Boswell said the QRIDA Far North regional area manager Sam Spina met them both on their farm and helped them through the application process.
"Sam came to our home, sat down with us and helped us go through the loan application. He went above and beyond," she said.
"With Sam's help and the rest of the team in Brisbane we were able to make our deadline and sale contract date, we had lots of assistance and nobody was too busy to help you."
They encourage other producers looking to expand or diversify their farming business to investigate their options with QRIDA.