It all began with a little roadside stall.

Andrew Morris and Amanda Callan would leave the extra veggies from their garden in the box at the front gate to be picked up by passers by.

Encouraged by the response, they started leaving other things there too – like pickles and preserves, and soaps Amanda had made using herbs from the garden

Meanwhile, Andrew was making hot sauces from the extra tomatoes and chills they had grown, and working one day a week on a nearby farm owned by farmer, friend and mentor, the late Ian Cameron.

Soon, Andrew and Amanda’s passions for growing and eating good organic food and making natural soaps had evolved into a thriving online business – Church Farm General Store  (named after the Billlinudgel church they have converted into a home) – and then earlier this year into a farmers market stall at the New Brighton and Mullumbimby Farmers Market, where they sell their soaps, sauces, pickles, home-made curry pastes, as well as produce they grow on land leased from Ian’s wife, Robin.

For a pair who grew up in the suburbs of Brisbane and only moved to the country four years ago, the leap to becoming full time farmers appears to be big one, but both have had an interest in growing food and natural health for many years.

Andrew says he would set up a garden – even if it was just in pots – In every share house he lived, while Amanda found her passion for organic food after studying of naturopathy, herbal medicine and nutrition.

For Amanda, it was the birth of her first son, Banjo, that prompted her to start making her own soaps, which contain all natural ingredients like olive oil, coconut oil, macadamia oil, hemp seed oil,  clays, and herbs from he garden.

“We had Banjo in a hospital and you get given all of these Jonson and Jonson stuff and you read the label and you’re like – ‘oh no’ – I’m going to make my own.”

“Whatever goes onto your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream, so it’s almost an extension of food, ” she said.

Andrew’s hot sauces and pickles were simply a result of not wanting to waste any of their garden harvest, he says,  “It’s just something where we had a surplus of stuff in the garden, so I came up with a recipe, made it for some mates who wanted more and then it turned into a business.”churchfarm

Growing food is where Church Farm began, so Andrew and Amanda’s s decision to extend their business into a market garden and farmers market stall this year was a natural progression.

Produce they grow for the stall includes mild and bitter salad mixes, fresh turmeric and turmeric paste, ginger, citrus, Asian greens, radishes and beans, all of which they grow organically using manures, compost, worm juice and seaweed.

Andrews says one of the greatest advantages of selling direct to customers at the farmers markets is that people can learn more about their food, how it has been grown and how fresh it is:

“When people say ‘are these spray free?’ you can look them in the eye and say yes they are.”

Because a lot of the time you go to a supermarket or somewhere else and you don’t really know what you’re buying or how long it’s been sitting there.

“People here are guaranteed the stuff is picked the day before market and driven, say, seven kilometres… it’s straight from the garden.”

Amanda and Andrew are also proof that despite barriers such as high land prices – it is still possible to get a start as a young farmer, and they encourage others to try it:

“Theres a lot of land around here,” said Andrew

“People own big chunks of 100 acres or 200 acres, so there’s lots of opportunities for leasing.

“Knock on the door and ask.”

• Find Church Farm at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday.

– Story and pics by Kate O’Neill