Gary Hands, Kookaburra Organics
This week I am very proud to introduce you all to my new guru (ok, my boss) Gary Hands from Kookaburra Organics. Ten years ago Gary wanted a change in lifestyle and to get away from the city, so he made the move from Victoria to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The move was to gain a better lifestyle himself along with wanting to improve his health, longevity and to grow organic food. After setting up his garden Gary attended a food expo with his produce where many people were asking where they could buy it. As his organic produce was such a hit, he started Kookaburra Organics eight years ago, now the business is flourishing with a high demand for farm grown organic vegetables.
Clockwise: kale, purple basil, bok choy and red kale
Kookaburra Organics provides a home-delivery service that supplies organic vegetables and produce. Gary grows the majority of the food in his own market garden, trusting a few other organic farmers to provide for the company and inspecting the quality thoroughly before it goes out to his customers each week. I have never met a man who is so passionate about being certified organic. Since working with him, he has shared his knowledge about finding real organic food and the difference in what you would buy at supermarkets and organic stores. For me this is a huge thing as I want to buy the best quality fresh locally farmed food.
The market garden in Gary’s backyard is over an acre in size. Divided into sections with the delicate greens are under shade cloth and the larger more sturdy vegetables are out in the sun. Growing with the seasons Gary is now teaching me about moon-planting, something I am not very familiar with. Using only heirloom and heritage seeds & seedlings that are sourced locally he knows he will have a better strike rate. At the moment he is sowing seeds like mad, for the next turn around in the garden.
His most popular items with customers are his garlic, spuds and kale. “Kale’s reputation is misunderstood as the poor man’s spinach from the United Kingdom” he remarks. Farming organically for himself, and now his clients, is the best way to guarantee that he was not eating any fertilisers, spray, chemicals or genetically modified seed stock. Gary tells me that you can use fresh organically grown produce as a preventative to diseases like cancer. As the garden is a spray free zone and is certified organic Gary relies on the natural pest management including the beneficial insect and bird relationship.
Living in Victoria as an eight year old Gary had his own backyard garden with chickens. By the time he was twelve he was staying with other family members working in their gardens during the weekends and school holidays. This is where he learnt about the optimal times to sow seeds and pick vegetables. Gary explained to me how he could not wait to get out of the city, go to the country side and get his hands in the earth.
“It’s in your blood, farming” Gary Hands
Golden nugget pumpkins
Each year the team from Kookaburra Organics displays their unique and unusual types of edible vegetables and plants at the Queensland Garden Expo in July. Among the display are seed potatoes which are popular with patrons, ready to go in the ground. This year Gary will be doing a talk about how to grow potatoes and garlic organically, this is the perfect opportunity to meet him face to face. Plus over the past four years the team at Kookaburra Organics have twice won the ‘Best Overall Display, Gold Award’, out of over 360 other competitors. Gary puts his pride into everything he does and his knowledge is overwhelming. If you can’t make it to the Expo he also runs workshops.
If you are wanting to start your own vegetable garden, Gary runs numerous workshops. The most popular is the no-dig garden where you learn from scratch about the seasons, preparing the soil, planting seeds/seedlings, worm farms and compost.
Gary with his harvest of garlic, checking it over as it dries.
Kookaburra Organics delivers on Thursdays to the Sunshine Coast area (Pomona – Caloundra – Maleny) and Fridays to Brisbane. Everything is sourced organically certified if not grown from Gary’s own garden, where 80% of the food comes from. The food is delivered to your door sealed in a box with an ice blanket to keep the food at its freshest. For more information about workshops or organic food deliveries give Gary a call.