Pioneers of the organic food movement, David Forrest and Sue Mangan have been farming in Federal since 1978. As a community we are so lucky to have their incredible knowledge available to us through their Organic Forrest stall at the farmers markets.
With an Agriculture degree from what was then Hawkesbury Ag College, David knew the industrial agricultural system was headed in the wrong direction and was determined to grow healthy food in an environmental way. Purchasing their old dairy farm the couple set about planting 20,000 native trees and a produce farm, turning their dreams of living organically off the land into reality.
Organic Forrest produce a wide range of seasonal vegetables, salad greens, macadamias, bush foods, ginger, garlic, citrus and flowers, as well as kombucha, and jamu.
David was asked by NASAA (National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia) to assist in the development of organic standards. He and Sue also became an integral part of grassroots action group TROPO (Tweed Richmond Organic Producers Organisation) who promote organic farming and gardening practices and serves as an information base for people to raise skills and solve problems, with regular fields days and workshops.
Teaching agriculture at TAFE David developed the curriculum for their organic farming training course, still available as a state wide program. Now retired from TAFE he works as a casual lecturer and tutor as SCU.
David fervently believes in a circular economy and the importance of reliable, secure access to healthy food. For this he needs partnerships with consumers, hence his decision to sell through farmers markets. Supermarkets, he explains, supportive as they are of commercial agriculture, add to environmental degradation and climate change.
Now in Spring David is planting ginger and turmeric, zucchini, pumpkin and cucumbers, and as always leafy greens.
To deal with pests David ensures a biodiverse habitat, with healthy plants that resist pest and diseases due to compost and minerals. At the moment he will be looking out for 28 spot ladybird and the pumpkin beetle, if necessary, he will treat these with beauvaria, a natural fungus.
“It is important to realise that what you eat today, walks and talks tomorrow”, David says with a laugh. ‘Eating organically is important to support your own health and the health of the environment we all live in’.
Dougal Forrest is at New Brighton Farmers Markets 7am-11am Tuesdays and and David and Sue are at Mullumbimby Farmers Markets 7am-11am Fridays, drop in to discuss your organic gardening with these organic aficionados.