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Tragedy to triumph: Mick Dan's journey to Australian Organic Farmer of the Year

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Five years ago this month, Sunshine Coast organic farmers Mick Dan and Kelly Burton lost their Marcoola organic shop to an arson attack.

But that tragedy turned to triumph recently with the duo scooping both a national
and local business awards all within 24 hours.

Mr Dan, Good Harvest Organic Farm founder and farmer, picked up top gong at National - Australia Organic Industry Awards winning Farmer of the Year.

“It’s a great honour,” Mr Dan says.

“To be recognised among 2000-odd organic farmers around Australia is pretty cool.”

Good Harvest were finalists for four separate awards from the peak national organic body including Kelly in the Women in Organic of the Year category.

Despite a rich farming family history, Mr Dan didn’t plan on jumping into the farming game.

Mr Dan, who was a university lecturer in climate change, physics and ecology, decided the only way forward in farming was going organic.

“Our entire team at Good Harvest Organic Farm are proud to work in a value-based industry and provide healthy organic produce for their community,” he says.

“We also want to thank our Good Harvest customers and community for supporting us through the good times and the tough times - it truly is what inspires us to keep going and growing.”

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Mr Dan says during covid he has noticed an upswing in people turning to organic foods for a clean, fresh alternative.

“A lot of what we do at Good Harvest is educate people about where their food comes from, how it’s grown, why it’s important to eat organic,” he says.

“We service and feed upwards of 1300 families a week in a model that is quite unique in community-supported agriculture.

“The community has buy-in on what we do and is involved in the whole process.”

Still fresh from winning the Farmer of the Year award, the Good Harvest team swapped their farm clothes for suits and frocks and headed to the 26th Annual Sunshine Coast Business Awards.

Good Harvest won the Food and Agribusiness Category – Large Employer Award, from a large and diverse category of 14 industry peers.

We couldn’t believe it when we heard our name announced,” Kelly Burton, Good Harvest chief operations officer says.

“It still feels like a dream.”

“From humble beginnings in 2014, the community has stood by us and supported us in good times and bad. When our shop was destroyed by fire over five years ago, we could not have imagined how much of a positive influence this could have on our purpose and direction.”

Ms Burton says Mick has taken to farming with such vigour and passion, people can see that and feel it in the food he produces with the farm team.

“2021 has been a tough year personally, we lost my Mum in May this year, and to be able to come to work every day knowing we are feeding over 1300 families a week is what has kept me going,” she says.

“These awards give us such hope for the future where people are connected with local farmers, learning more about the importance of eating organic produce and the benefits this has on the environment and health of our community.”

 

Images: Supplied