DOWN ON THE FARM

LOOK­ING FOR AD­VEN­TURE? TOUR ONE OF THE GOLD COAST’S OLD­EST FARMS, WHICH STARTED AS A BANANA PLAN­TA­TION IN 1915.

Scout Magazine - - Adventure... -

There’s ad­ven­ture to be had in Cur­rumbin Val­ley and it’s all thanks to a some­what un­likely farmer. David Gower Free­man started his ca­reer as a mil­i­tary lawyer in the Aus­tralian De­fence Force ris­ing to the rank of Lieu­tenant Colonel, and saw ser­vice in East Ti­mor, Iraq and Afghanistan. Fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful ca­reer as an in­ter­na­tional lawyer and Ad­junct As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Law at QUT, it was David’s pas­sion for fresh or­ganic food that took his life in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion and drew him back to the fam­ily farm.

David hosts pub­lic guided tours of the farm ev­ery Sun­day at 10am, where vis­i­tors can see the farm's 70 dif­fer­ent or­ganic crops, in­clud­ing 40 types of veg­eta­bles and herbs and 30 types of fruit. David puts his agri­cul­tural suc­cess down to the high qual­ity of the soil and the pas­sion he has for im­prov­ing it.

“We are lucky enough to have deep red vol­canic soil, which is the most fer­tile agri­cul­tural soil in the world,” he says. “Due to its unique min­er­als and fer­til­ity, our pro­duce not only grows bet­ter, but has a won­der­ful taste and tex­ture and is also nu­tri­ent dense.”

Guests on the tour can also visit David’s farm shop, which is open from Fri­day to Mon­day weekly. It has a fresh range of 30 fruit and veg and is prin­ci­pally or­ganic, with around 80 per cent of stock grown on the farm.

The Free­man’s Or­ganic Farm story goes back to David’s great grand­fa­ther Harold Free­man and his great great un­cle, Arthur Free­man, who is re­garded as the pioneer of the banana in­dus­try in Aus­tralia. Arthur be­gan grow­ing ba­nanas in the Cur­rumbin Val­ley, af­ter leav­ing his banana plan­ta­tions in Fiji. The farm was es­tab­lished in 1915, and in the 1920s be­came the largest com­mer­cial banana farm in Aus­tralia, with more than 100 acres of ba­nanas (some 100,000 banana trees) and 40 full-time em­ploy­ees. In hon­our of Arthur, the then Al­bert Shire Coun­cil and Gold Coast City Coun­cil erected ‘Arthur Free­man Look­out’. Nowa­days, David is in a farm­ing fam­ily part­ner­ship with his par­ents, Bill Free­man MBE and Les­ley Free­man OAM.

"Dad is a for­mer WW11 fighter pi­lot and has been farm­ing this land since 1946 and still works on the farm ev­ery­day at the age of 92 years. He is a lo­cal leg­end and is the old­est man in Cur­rumbin Val­ley," David says.

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