Australians lettuce all rejoice

Brendan and Janne Dipple produce a range of leafy green vegetables and herbs at their farm. Pictures: RURAL AID

On Rural Aid’s Mates Day, the one thing fourth generation vegetable growers, Brendan and Janne Dipple, want Australians to know is farming is not an unskilled profession.

“There’s actually a lot that goes into farming. It takes a lot of effort, technical knowledge, and ability to be able to do the work at all levels in the farming enterprise,” Brendan said.

Add to that, the need to be agile, to pivot to another product if there’s a glut in the market, and to be able find resilience in the face of floods, drought and hailstorms.

Held on 20 March, Mates Day is all about recognising these challenges and the hard work Aussie farmers invest, each day, to put food on Australian tables.

The Dipples started Bare Essentials Quality Vegetables in the Lockyer Valley from scratch with $20,000 in 1998 after moving from Brendan’s great grandfather’s farm at Mitchelton in Brisbane.

On a flat and fertile 28 hectares at Mortonvale, they began by growing lettuces, before being scaled out by larger operators, and branching into bunch lines to fill a new niche producing shallots, spinach and silver beet, and in the past decade, fresh herbs.

The Dipples’ farm has been underwater five times in the past two years and endured extreme heat and hail.

“We had a good run during 2023 where everything was stable and we worked like mad,” Brendan said.

“Then we had a hailstorm in November which took everything, followed by another flood in 2024.

“We just mop up the mess and try to salvage crops or re-plant, but obviously it’s financially crippling.”

Rural Aid CEO John Warlters said the recurring weather events were having a compounding effect on the frequency and nature of requests for support the charity is receiving from farmers.

“We’ve got families right now who are recovering from multiple events, one after the other, and in a very quick time frame,” John said.

“The donations we receive during Mates Day will be used to help these farming families recover and get back on their feet.”

To support Rural Aid’s Mates Day campaign or to make a donation, visit matesday.ruralaid.org.au

All donations received will contribute to the important work Rural Aid is undertaking in rural and regional communities and supporting Australian farmers.