You could call it the effects of long COVID.
After battling economic conditions and harsh weather - especially for farmers - the successful small business duo of Elle Brown and Dylan Abdoo, who trade as Newcastle Greens, have finally asked for help.
Newcastle Greens grow more than 40 lines of microgreens, edible flowers and vegetables from premises in Cooranbong.
In 10 years of business they have become recognised as national award-winning growers, with their Calvin Lamborn varietal peas Rare Variety Leaves, plus other lines, served in the finest restaurants in NSW, including Muse in Pokolbin and Quay in Sydney.
The couple built their success on importing and growing unique seed lines, which quickly caught the attention of leading restaurants. They grow plants like siber frill kale, bare necessities kale, puntarelle chicory. Hungarian wax peppers, shishito peppers, biquinho peppers, cucumber flowers, ice plants and much more.
"In the last two years we've had drought, then COVID, now rain. You just can't win," Brown said.
Last week the business pair set up a Go Fund Me page, trying to raise $15,000 just to keep them going.
Farming has been difficult in recent months. They have growing tunnels for leafy vines and microgreens and flowers, but those plants still need sunlight or will fail due to powdery mildew. The larger vegetable plants in the ground have been hit hard by excessive moisture and lately, rabbits that have been taking seedlings.
The wet conditions have seen new garden beds with seedlings washed away within days of planting. The lack of sunlight has seen seedlings die at three weeks - when it takes nine weeks to get them to harvest.
On top of that, they've had to deal with deer, caterpillars, cabbage moths, and rosellas stealing corn.
Newcastle Greens supplies about 60 restaurants. Business trends are only starting to normalise after two years of starts and stops by hospitality traders due to COVID restrictions and lockdowns. Now, as restaurant trade increases, the Greens don't have enough produce to sell.
"Although we still have produce to sell, the usual volume is not there and almost all of our planned future crops have been destroyed in recent (and continual) heavy rains," Brown said in her Go Fund Me plea.
Brown and Abdoo are running the business on their own.
"The two of us can't do everything," Brown said.
"It's hard to keep on top on everything. It's been very, very hard.
"The price of everything has gone up. And we still have to pay rent. We had to let go of our original Cooranbong property - we moved out this week. It's the ongoing. And the money is not there."
The pair have exhausted their overdraft trying to stay afloat. Running costs include seeds, soil, packaging, electricity and rent.
"We really need it to get crops in, to cover more tunnels," Brown said. "We are just chipping away, we are not giving up."
The Greens are not alone.
"Everyone is suffering," Brown said.
"It doesn't matter what you do. When you have rain like that for so long, there is nothing you can do to save them. You have no income. Everyone is feeling it."
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