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.