Exotic vegies a growth industry
AUSTRALIA'S newfound love of exotic vegetables is helping the Lockyer Valley get over its addiction to potatoes.
Lake Clarendon farmer Tim Linnan has been growing broccolini for seven years but until this year had concentrated on stone fruit and before that grew onions and potatoes.
Mr Linnan abandoned spuds in favour of broccolini and cos lettuce, among other crops, after deciding he needed to find a fixed price crop rather than being victim to the ups and downs of the market.
"Traditionally we grew spuds and onions, like everyone in the Valley, but we decided we had to look for something that had a set price," he said.
He said he approached Perfection Fresh, owner of the broccolini patent, to grow the crop after growing lettuce for them.
Since then the popularity of the crop had skyrocketed.
"Since we first planted it in 2004, it's gone up 20% per year in how much we grow," he said.
Broccolini, a cross between traditional broccoli and the Chinese broccoli kai-lan, has been grown in Australia only since the turn of the century.
"Four years ago you would hardly know anyone who knew what broccolini was. Now you see it everywhere," he said.
Mr Linnan said exotic vegetables such as broccolini had benefited from the growth of television cooking shows.
"Shows like Masterchef have helped for sure. We also grow purple carrots, and as soon as they were mentioned on Masterchef sales of them went through the roof," he said.
"You're starting to see broccolini in gourmet restaurants. Even the Plainlands Hotel has it."
Until 2010 Mr Linnan also grew stone fruit crops, however, after losing more than a quarter of the crop to fruit bats last year he decided to move into more vegetable production.
Ironically, it was the soon to be removed fruit trees that held the soil together and saved much of his farm from flood damage.
TOP 10 VEGIES
Carrots are Australia's favourite vegie, according to peak industry body AUSVEG.
Australia's top 10 vegetables: 1. Carrots 2. Potatoes 3. Tomatoes 4. Lettuce 5. Onions 6. Capsicums 7. Mushrooms 8. Broccoli 9. Cucumber 10. Pumpkin