RICE is not a crop you would immediately associate with the Northern Rivers, but back in 2007, Goolmangar famer Frank Boyle decided he’d give it a go.

Using a dryland variety, which relies on natural rainfall rather than flooded paddy fields, he and wife Andrea took a chance, and were rewarded with an enthusiastic response at their local farmers markets.

“Everybody was excited because no one else was doing it,” Andrea said.

Customers loved the fact that it was local, and were also impressed by the rice’s quality and flavour, which Andrea says is quite different to the brown rice most people are accustomed to.

“It’s not that chewy, gluggy texture – it’s soft and fluffy with a nutty flavour.”

Because it’s a whole grain it’s also more nutritious than polished white rice. The bran and germ, which contain the fibre, vitamins and minerals, are left intact.

The Boyle’s rice is grown using biological farming methods that are kind to the soil. It’s also  insecticide free, and not fumigated, as imported rice is.

More than a decade since they planted their first crop, Frank and Andrea’s rice remains a sought-after staple at the markets, – so much so that they have recently expanded to include two more markets a week, and now have stalls at New Brighton and Mullumbimby Farmers Markets.

Alongside their rice, they sell their other main crop, pecans.

Harvested in June/July the nuts are dried and stored then cracked fresh for market each week, so they are as fresh as possible.

“It’s as fresh as it can be and you can see that people notice the difference,” Andrea said.

They also make an award -winning pecan spread – delicious on toast, in basil pesto, in smoothies or dressings, and two pecan mueslis, including a gluten free option.

As a relatively small farm, there can be some time in between seasons when the pecans are not available, but Andrea says customers don’t mind.

“We have tiny gap, but then we’re all excited for the new season.”

She says being a part of the farmers markets has allowed them to keep their farm viable.

“The farmers markets are absolutely central to what we do.”

“That’s why we can do what we can do.”

  • Find Nimbin Valley Pecans and Rice at the New Brighton Farmers Market every Tuesday.