SPROUTING THE FUTURE: Northern Rivers farmer Rodney Warburton waters seedlings which will become the produce he sells at the Yamba Farmer's Markets each week.
SPROUTING THE FUTURE: Northern Rivers farmer Rodney Warburton waters seedlings which will become the produce he sells at the Yamba Farmer's Markets each week. Melinda Stanley

To market with Rodney's passion for growth

FOLLOWING in the footsteps of five generations of farming, it is safe to say Rodney Warburton is a fifth-generation farmer at least.

Growing up on a dairy property, and farming since he left school at the age of 14, he and his family have lived through many shifts in the Australian dairy industry.

"Corporatisation of farming has pushed many of our farmers off the land; all in the name of dollar milk, conveniently available at the supermarkets that crush the Australian farmer at every turn,” he said.

"They are unable to set their own prices and have to take whatever the corporates decide to pay them. This in turn leads to unsustainable, and unhealthy, farming practices.”

Mr Warburton decided that there must be a better way, and moved away from dairy farming.

He began to grow a diverse mix of fruit and vegetables using sustainable farming techniques, and now works 12-16 hours a day to provide for a variety of markets in the Northern Rivers.

A skilled farmer, he has a knack for pretty much everything: irrigation, power, better soil, better beds, fertilisers, and pest control - the latter a continuous work in progress.

And while he has no formal training - just many hours of trial, error and good old fashioned experience - he is also passionate about farming without the assistance of chemicals.

Mr Warburton then sells his produce - which includes masses of greens, root vegies, bananas, avocados and weird and wonderful produce - each week at the Yamba Farmer's Market.

He loves having a chat about his practices, principles and philosophies, and farms predominantly on his mother's property near Alstonville, and on his late father's land in Coraki.

His dad died working on this farm, picking food for farmers' markets; life, death, passion and love symbolically reflected.

Say hi if you spot him at the Yamba Farmer's Markets next Wednesday. He'll be there from 7am.



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