'Organics way of future'

31 Aug, 2005 08:45 PM
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CARNARVON fruit and vegetable grower Kaye Johnson turned to organic production as a way to combat her allergies.

She was allergic to the chemicals she was using on the plants and making her operation organic was a way for her to continue producing fruit and vegetables without the side-effects.

"I had problems with the sulphur and once I stopped using the chemicals, my respiratory problems cleared up," she said.

According to Ms Johnson, organics are the way of the future, offering better returns than conventionally-grown produce.

The Johnsons' 9ha property was accredited in 2001 and the organic produce sold under the name Far End Plantations soon after.

During the banana season, 100 cartons are sold per week, equating to about 5000 cartons per year.

Ms Johnson said the yield of her organic produce was on par with that of conventionally-grown fruit and vegetables.

She said growing organic produce had benefits.

"With our organic bananas, we don't get as many bunch drops," she said.

"Conventional-grown bananas get pushed with urea, but the organic bananas grow a little slower and become stronger."

There are 2ha of bananas, 2ha of oats, clover and field peas, and a couple of hectres of mixed vegetables on the Johnsons' property.

Ms Johnson sells her produce to Perth.

In the past year, she has reduced production quantities for market reasons.

"If we over-produce, the market can't handle it and the prices go down," she said.

By producing less, Ms Johnson receives the premium price.

But she said the organic market was growing.

"The problem with organics is it lacks a continuity of supply," Ms Johnson said.

"It needs growers to be able to supply all year round."

With help from Steve McCoy, Agriculture Department, she is trying to improve the markets and help with shortages and supply.

But she has also set her sights on a new market - organic coffee.

Ms Johnson hopes to plant 2000 trees per hectare next year, which would make it the first coffee crop in WA.

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