New hopes af­ter ris­ing from ashes

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - Finda - Matty Holdsworth news@ru­ral­weekly.com

It wasn’t just about four walls and a col­d­room, it was our life.” — Mick Dan

HOW do you go about pick­ing up the pieces of your life’s work when it’s left in tat­ters?

It’s a ques­tion Mick Dan and Kelly Bur­ton have asked al­most daily since that fate­ful in­ci­dent 12 months ago.

A 1am phone call awoke them like a bolt from the blue. They walked across the road to see their beloved fruit and veg­etable store en­gulfed in flames. Their Good Har­vest Or­ganic store in Mar­coola on Queens­land’s Sun­shine Coast was gut­ted by sus­pected ar­son.

“It was ev­ery­thing we had, we lived for that shop. It wasn’t just about four walls and a col­d­room, it was our life,” Mr Dan said of the day that felt like yes­ter­day.

“I try not to think about what it cost us... hun­dreds of thou­sands.

“We had noth­ing left and had to restart.

“It has been a long bat­tle to sur­vive, and a very tough 12 months.” Yet sur­vive they did – as stub­born as a mule – and de­fied the odds.

The pair and their team of six plant their or­ganic goods at Woom­bye, and sup­ply the Sun­shine Coast with fruit and veg­etable boxes.

They sup­ply whole­salers, Noosa’s Wasabi Restau­rant and Bud­erim’s Hun­gry Feel Eat­ing House.

They’re aim­ing to feed up to 200 fam­i­lies a week from their farm.

“I can’t be­lieve a year has passed. It’s been a blur,” he said.

“But we’ve bounced back, we had to.

“We started this box sys­tem, cus­tomers can se­lect them on­line and sub­scribe.

“We pick and pack the boxes and de­liver them the same day. Usu­ally within five to six hours, so they’re as fresh as pos­si­ble.”

The sus­pected ar­son rocked them to the core, but the com­mu­nity sup­port rekin­dled their faith.

“Straight af­ter it so much love was poured in from the wider com­mu­nity. Even now peo­ple ask us if we will open the shop up again,” the third-gen­er­a­tion farmer said.

“We had about a month off over De­cem­ber and straight back into it in Jan­uary. We didn’t re­ally lose any cus­tomers, and re­ally, if any­thing, we gained many more.

“The com­mu­nity stuck by us and be­lieved in us and we are so grate­ful. Our main goal is to just con­tinue to feed the fam­i­lies.”

Check out their on­line store: www.good­har­vest. com.au.

PHOTO: PATRICK WOODS

RE­COV­ERY: Former shop owner Mick Dan (above) and Kelly Bur­ton lost their shop front to sus­pected ar­son 12 months ago. They now sup­ply fam­i­lies with boxes of ve­g­ies to about 70 homes.

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