Agronomist, turned vegetable farmer, Ed Windley grew up on a cattle station in Central Queensland.
But he never felt the connection to cattle that his parents did.
From the time he grew air plants as a young boy, Ed has always had an affinity with plants.
It was during his final years at university that he was able to channel that love into an internship working with the Department of Primary Industries.
When he graduated as a fully-fledged agronomist Ed went where the work was, consulting to irrigated cotton farmers in Emerald.
By then his parents had moved back to a family property in Kalbar, one-hour south-west of Brisbane and he was offering “Éphone support’ from Emerald.
“I kept telling dad what to do from Emerald. He said, “ÉCome and do it yourself.'” Ed explains.
“They’d had a farm manager who had retired and they either needed to get someone else in or lease the land.”
Ed saw an opportunity to farm in his own right and “moved south. “One of Ed’s first moves was to turn cattle pasture into workable vegetable ground.
The property, which has been in Ed’s mother’s family since 1944 and is one of the original Fassifern Valley homesteads, had a flood harvesting licence.
“We had plans and finance approved for a 300ML ring tank and the government said you’ve got six months to build this thing.
“So we committed to doing it. We had a big empty hole there for a while as it was pretty dry out here.”
It was Ed’s first exposure to the vagaries of running a business in partnership with the weather.
Since taking over the family farm he’s been through a drought and three floods.
Then there’s been the challenge of learning to grow new crops and developing relationships with businesses that pack and sell to retail customers.
“I just didn’t realise how domestically focused things are and how those relationships are so damned important to making it work from both ends.
“In the cotton industry, and grain to a degree, your competitors are overseas. Here your competitor might be your neighbour.”
But what he lacked in experience, Ed made up for in scientific knowledge. He takes a scientific approach to growing crops and strives to develop practices, which are repeatable – and profitable.
Ed’s winter crops are carrots and onions. During summer he grows green beans and sweetcorn.