Swan­pool di­ver­sity

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - Front Page -

THERE is no doubt that farm­ing can be a chal­leng­ing way to make a liv­ing. Live­stock prices fluc­tu­ate daily. If it doesn’t rain, it pours. It’s not just warm, it’s 45 de­grees. There’s ei­ther too much hay, or not enough, or too many frosts or too short a win­ter.

And there are weather fore­casts that prom­ise a lot and deliver the op­po­site.

In an in­dus­try that is fa­mous for its un­pre­dictabil­ity, Swan­pool farmer Mark Fo­letta is tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach.

Run­ning in con­junc­tion with his par­ents next door, Mark has eight dif­fer­ent in­come streams - all gen­er­ated from his farm in Swan­pool.

Boast­ing a mix of crops, live­stock and fruit plan­ta­tions, the Fo­letta fam­ily have spent years tri­alling dif­fer­ent ways to farm their Bro­ken River property, set­tling on an eclec­tic mix that is sur­pris­ing in its di­ver­sity.

Therein, how­ever, lies its suc­cess – Mark is the next gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers who be­lieve di­ver­sity is the key.

“When one crop is hav­ing a bad sea­son, odds are one of the oth­ers is do­ing ok,” Mark said.

“Grapes have been very good to us in the past, and then when ev­ery­one was grow­ing grapes and the prices were ter­ri­ble, the cat­tle prices were the best they’d ever been.

“That’s where the di­ver­sity comes into it,” he said.

Mark, who ad­mit­tedly “likes to grow things”, pro­duces cher­ries, grapes, pump­kins, and free for­age mush­rooms.

With his par­ents, they also run Merino sheep, cat­tle, and cut high­qual­ity lucerne bales.

The Fo­letta fam­ily has been in Swan­pool since the area was first set­tled, though Mark’s own property was sold off some years ago when times were tough.

“This was orig­i­nally the fam­ily farm, and then it got sold on.

“So when it came back on the mar­ket a few years ago I looked at it as an op­por­tu­nity that was pre­sented.

“I feel like I’ve turned this place into some­thing I can be re­ally proud of,” he said.

Al­though he is pleased to see the farm di­ver­sify, Mark’s thirst for knowl­edge is some­thing that has been passed down from fa­ther to son.

“Truth­fully, the di­ver­sity with the farm was here be­fore me,” he said.

“Dad is a very, very pro­gres­sive farmer.

“He has had a big in­flu­ence on me and the way I farm and think.

“We do a lot of re­search and tri­als here - Dad’s done lupins, in­stant lawn and hemp.”

Mark said that now with a good mix of both crops and live­stock, any po­ten­tial new har­vests are strictly ex­am­ined to see if they will fit in with those al­ready ex­ist­ing in the farm­ing oper­a­tion.

“It’s all about di­ver­sity,” Mark sums up with a smile.

ECCLECTIC MIX: Mark Fo­letta has many dif­fer­ent in­come streams all gen­er­ated from his Swan­pool farm.

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