Food fresh from the farm

Five generations of the Zunker family have been growing fabulous fresh food at Windhum Farms.

By Angela Norval

Fruit and vegetables fresh from the farm, trees and vines will sit alongside meats straight from the paddock and the ocean as the Taste Farmers Market showcases the diversity of delights available across the region.

Alexandra Park on the Burnett River will be the venue for the event on Saturday 12 June from 7am to 11am, to showcase why the Bundaberg region has become renowned as Australia’s food bowl.

Thankfully the market is the opportunity to fill your bags to the brim with goodness.

Stallholders will display clever culinary creations and food vans will serve up the flavours of the region fresh to market-goers.

Because the Taste Farmers Market is an opportunity to appreciate the beauty and the bounty of the region, visitors will also be able to speak to passionate producers about what makes their fare the best and why this area is the place to grow it well.

The region’s farmers provide fresh produce to cafes, restaurants and supermarkets all over Australia, but at this special event will sell it direct to you.

One of those will be Windhum Farms, run by Linda and Darren Zunker, who are dedicated fourth-generation farmers in Bundaberg.

Linda and Darren trade as Windhum Farms Pty Ltd and use the well-known label of ‘Bundaberg Gold’ to market their produce.

Their properties are bordered by Windermere and Hummock Roads – hence the trading name of Windhum Farms.

Linda said the Taste Bundaberg Festival was a fantastic opportunity for tourism and agriculture to combine and work together to showcase what the region has to offer from our very own food bowl.

“The Taste Farmers Market allows farmers and foodies to showcase their wares, meaning visitors get to meet one-on-one with growers, and it gives us as growers an opportunity to meet the end consumer, which most times doesn’t happen for commercial growers,” she said.

“I love to speak to the market visitors, to chat about what we grow, and teach them how to use and store our product.

“We are intending to take five different varieties of Sweet Potato, with one variety which is not usually commercially available to consumers.

“There will be two gold varieties, one red, one Hawaiian, and of course my all-time favourite Bonita.”

Showcasing their products is a matter of joy for the family because Windhum Farms prides itself on being an Australian family-owned, operated and financed business, with sweet potatoes at its core.

“Almost 80 per cent of Australia’s sweet potatoes are grown in the Bundaberg region,” Linda said.

“Our main focus is on growing a quality product and the way we do this is to look after our number one asset which is the soil we grow them in.

“Although our families have been farming in the local area since the late 1870s, which makes us fifth and sixth generation farmers respectively on our farms, we did not inherit any of our farming land from past generations; Darren and I purchased our home farm in 1999 and have steadily expanded our operation from there.

“The next generation is already stepping up to the plate, with both our boys, Ethan and Daniel, and their growing young families keen to continue in farming.

“We have already began to diversify our farming interest to include a couple of our farms under macadamia orchards and we continue to grow and look at other markets to expand further in the future, although sweet potatoes will remain at the core of our business for quite some years to come.”

Celebrity chef Poh Ling Yeow will make a special appearance at the Taste Farmers Market, and will have 200 free, signed cook books ready to hand out to those lucky enough to find her first, making it a morning not to be missed.

Poh said she couldn’t wait to visit Bundaberg.

“I have always connected with people in rural communities so I’m really excited to meet the locals,” she said.

“It’s of course a great opportunity to work with all the wonderful local produce as well.”