LESS chemicals and more weeds; it's a trade-off a New South Wales ginger growing couple is happy to make.
Chris Fleming and Melanie Proud own Bellinger River Organics near Bellingen.
The former cattle station manager (Chris) and UK television producer (Melanie) have carved out a considerable reputation for their ginger, plus red and yellow tumeric.
That journey began with a visit to Bellingen some years back.
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"We were given a warm welcome and introduction to the family farm," Mr Fleming said.
"We started out by growing on their property and building our businesses alongside each other while working as a team."
Bellinger River Organics has just under a hectare (2 acres) of ginger under production with plans to expand in the near future.
This produces about 50 tonnes of ginger per year with weekly shipments to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne wholesale markets, as well as locally in Coffs Harbour.
Sitting halfway between Sydney and Brisbane is a big plus for the farm, with easy access to the fresh produce markets.
"This allows us to deliver fresh, high-quality produce, which is our priority," Mr Fleming said.
"Our ginger leaves Coffs Harbour late in the afternoon and arrives at the fresh produce markets early the very next morning."
The sub-tropical climate and the friable loam soils are also ideally suited to ginger production.
But organic production is not for the faint-hearted.
The never-ending weed pressure presents prompts some non-traditional farming methods from the couple.
"We choose not to grab for the old herbicide," Mr Fleming said.
"Our weed management takes a little more time, planning and labour, but with the right preparation leading up to planting we can significantly reduce the amount of weeds that we need to chip or pull out by hand."
According to the couple, the increased interest in organic products is being driven largely by younger consumers who have concerns over farm chemical use.
They are also becoming more vocal about the issue, particularly on the online space.
"It's great to see the return to simple nourishing foods becoming a priority," Mr Fleming said.
"Younger generations are driving the interest in health and wellness through quality nutrition too which is exciting and why we think that this will continue to grow.
"They're also advocating loudly about the importance of nurturing our environment.
"With food being recognised here as wholesome medicine, more nutrient dense organic produce will continue to be in demand."
Long Time Goodnesss
GINGER is not a superfood fad.
"Ginger has been a super food for centuries and always will be," Mr Fleming said.
"It's versatile and tasty, but also contains a bioactive compound called gingerol which is responsible for much of its medicinal properties.
"It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects."
He said in Australia, fresh ginger consumption per capita is low in comparison to Asia where its eaten daily.
"But we believe that this will only increase with the current health trends," Mr Fleming said.
A Greater Cause
WHILE dedicated to producing healthy crops on home soil, the pair also aware of bigger picture global issues.
Bellinger River Organics has partnered with Growth Educational Trust, an organisation dedicated to bringing positive change by encouraging rural Ugandan children through education.
Ten cents from every kilogram sold from the farm is donated directly to the Trust.
"We're incredibly thankful for the opportunities that we've been given in growing up in the parts of the world that we have," Mr Fleming said.
"We're conscious that not everyone has access to the resources and circumstances that we do.
"We're very mindful of that and for that reason our relationship with The Growth Educational Trust is really important to us.
"It will continue to grow as our business does. If our ginger sales impact a child's opportunities elsewhere, well, that's a big driving force for doing what we do."
There are further produce lines planned for the farm which will complement the ongoing expansion of the ginger production
"Growing organically is the most rewarding part for us because we know that our consumers are receiving 100 per cent goodness without the nasty chemicals," Mr Fleming said.