TOO DRY: Pozieres organic vegetable farmers Ray and Samantha Palmer have been forced to stop planting with no water in their dams to keep their seeds alive.
TOO DRY: Pozieres organic vegetable farmers Ray and Samantha Palmer have been forced to stop planting with no water in their dams to keep their seeds alive. Marian Faa

Last market in Warwick a sign of looming produce shortage

SOUTHERN Downs growers are warning consumers fresh vegetables could become expensive and difficult to source as empty dams force them to stop planting and seek different work.

With no more water to keep their vegies alive, Pozieres organic vegetable farmers Ray and Samantha Palmer have made the difficult decision to pull the plug on future planting.

Today, the last of their seedlings were given to Warwick farmer Nick Locke who can give them a better shot at success with his stable bore water supply.

"We are basically out of water and we won't be able to start planting until we get really decent rain," Mr Palmer said.

"I am aware of other significant producers who are not going to worry about planting until they get significant rain."

 

NEW SOIL: These young seedlings raised by organic vegetable farmers Ray and Samantha Palmer won't find a home on their Pozieres farm where dams are almost dry. The couple have given the seedlings to Warwick farmer Nick Locke, whose bore supply is still stable.
NO WATER: Seedlings raised by Ray and Samantha Palmer won't be planted on their Pozieres farm, instead they will go to Warwick farmer Nick Locke (right). Marian Faa

Mr and Mrs Palmer said they would save their seeds for better conditions.

Customers around the region who have come to rely on the Palmers for their organic vegetables will feel the loss this week as the Seasonal Feast holds its last market at Bluebird Cafe in Warwick today.

But small-scale market operations aren't the only ones staring into an uncertain future.

Mr Palmer said consumers in large-scale supermarkets could start to feel the burn of drought in their pockets soon.

Rose City Fruits owner Justin Van Twest said the price of some fresh vegetables had already started to rise.

Anticipating a pending shortage as demand starts to outstrip supply, Mr Van Twest is looking to get ahead of big supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths with agents trying to secure produce months ahead of time.

 

Rose City Fruits owners Justin and Lauren van Twest were excited to open their new store at Rose City Shoppingworld today.
Rose City Fruits owners Justin and Lauren van Twest said they would do everything they could to source produce for their customers despite the pending shortage. Elyse Wurm

In normal circumstances Mr Van Twest would only be looking a week or two in advance.

"I have been told the same - that people aren't going to plant so we are going to have to source things from other areas which is going to make it tough because there might not be enough for everyone," he said.

"The prices haven't gotten to the extreme yet, they have just steadily gone up but I dare say it will."

Mr Van Twest said looking on the positive side, stonefruit was beginning to come onto shelves.

"We have other avenues and we will be working toward to make sure consumers can get what they want," he said.

"But it is just terrible for the growers in this region. It is people's livelihoods. They can't plant and still have bills to pay."

 

Natasha Jackson selling local produce at the Seasonal Feast Farmers Market
Natasha Jackson selling local produce at the Seasonal Feast Farmers Market. Nicole Zurcas

Fresh local vege still up for grabs

SHOPPERS will still be able to get their fill of delicious, locally-grown organic produce in both Warwick and Stanthorpe.

While Seasonal Feast will hold its last market at Bluebird Cafe in Warwick tomorrow, the Seasonal Feast market in Stanthorpe will continue every Friday from 8am in the Farley St Piazza.

Amazing local produce from local growers will also be available in Warwick at the Riverside Organics market on Wednesday afternoons.

The Riverside Organics market is held every Wednesday from 2.30pm-5.30pm at Riverside Farm on Victoria St (opposite old butter factory) in Warwick. Online pre-ordering is also available.