Creative writing was what Ryan Bruin had his heart set on. He had planned to go to university to pursue it, except that he started working on his parent’s farm as a ‘gap’ – and, in his words, ‘fell in love with it all’.
Ryan’s is mostly the smiley face you see at the farmers markets behind the Summit Organics stall. The family farm, 128 hectares behind Tyalgum, was started by his Dutch grandfather who launched into goats, then coffee, on the glorious soil there. One year Ryan’s parents Rod and Tanya put down a crop of sweet potatoes and realised just how good the soil was.
‘So they made the switch over’, Ryan says, growing whatever popped into their heads. ‘Mum and dad were happy to give everything a shot’, he tells me. ‘There’s not a lot we can’t grow.’ For years his parents have been building great soil, composting to a depth of 30 centimetres, taking care of the soil, observing the changes. ‘Soil is so important’, says Ryan.
Rod and Tanya had never pressured Ryan to work on the farm. His passion for it grew naturally and, dare one say, organically. ‘I started on micro greens and sprouts’, he says. ‘You go from seed to cut in a week – it’s a quick turnaround – so I took over the sprouts completely. It’s very satisfying.’ Ultimately he was to do a bit of everything, along with his brother and eight other mostly full-time workers, plus man the farmers market stall, which he loves.
There will always be challenges, not least this year’s floods which nearly wiped them out – since then a third of the property is under cover. Staying organic is another, ‘but it’s getting easier’, Ryan says. ‘There are more alternative solutions so we can keep our prices reasonable.’
Summit Organics can be found at New Brighton Farmers Market every Tuesday 8 – 11am and Mullum Farmers Market every Friday 7 – 11am.