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Cultivating healthy attitudes to good food

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Cultivating healthy attitudes to good food

A hinterland farm is winning accolades for regenerative soil practices and championing the paddock-to-plate philosophy.

One of Sunshine Coast’s best-kept secrets has been recognised for its nutrient-dense, bio-diverse and unique produce.

The Falls Farm in Mapleton has been named as the national winner of the 2022 delicious Produce Awards in the From the Earth category.

Now in its 17th year, the awards focus on Australia’s best producers – the people who grow, cultivate, harvest and catch the produce supplied to the country’s leading chefs and hospitality venues.

The Falls Farm is owned by husband-and-wife creatives and entrepreneurs Ben Johnston and Jess Huddart, who also recently took over ownership of the 113-year-old Mapleton Public House (formerly Mapleton Tavern). Over the past nine years, with the help of Mr Johnston’s mother and The Falls Farm manager Christine Ballinger, they have transformed the previously degraded 12-hectare (30-acre) property to a fully blossoming market garden of everyday and obscure vegies.

The successful farm has become a supplier of seasonal produce to high-end restaurants across the Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Brisbane.

Produce being grown includes golf ball and purple haze carrots, Cylindrica and Chioggia beetroot, Ishikura shallots through to cranberry hibiscus, celtuce, yuzu, and warrigal greens.

The farm uses regenerative practices – a conservation and rehabilitation approach to farming that focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil.

“We take our role as custodians of the small-plot farm adjacent to the Mapleton Falls National Park seriously,” Ms Ballinger says.

“We are passionate about the role of regenerative agriculture practice in our food systems, the role of farmers as a critical part of the solution to climate change, and the power of food to change the world.”

Like many Queensland produces, The Falls Farm was impacted by heavy rains and flooding earlier this year in the region.

“Our dedicated team of farm hands have rebuilt market gardens, replanted the season’s lost seedlings, and harvested produce through the toughest conditions, so this award is as much for them as recognition for their hard work and determination,” Ms Ballinger says.

The family will use the nearby Mapleton Public House, just three kilometres away, to showcase local produce and recreate much-loved pub classics with a twist.

Partnering with a former Spicers Hotels and Resorts executive chef Cameron Matthews, the team will push the boundaries of paddock to plate, closing the loop between farmer and chef.

Locals can order vegies boxes, delivered to the hinterland and Brisbane, from thefallsfarm.com.

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