June 2013: This was posted on FACEBOOK – and we responded.

FROM LISA CROOKS OF RIVERVIEW HERBS:

‘Please share…So Logan City Council has put open field market gardens back on their agenda for their council meeting today, under the confidentiality code too! Will this be another kick in the guts for the farmers…WHY?…We work hard, and have been suffering the effects of your intensive Horticulture regulations!…your compliance guys fully investigate all unsubstantiated complaints and acknowledge that their isn’t any issues with our best practise management of farming…We are already a very heavily regulated Horticulture industry that does not need another kick in the guts!!! We work our arses off every day trying to keep everyone happy, and not impact anyone…let us do what we do best and that is to produce quality produce that puts food on the table and helps grow your economy…Let common sense prevail today! Councillors, If you need to visit the farms again or ask any questions…ASK away! We have maintained open book, happy to show you what we do rather than to assume mis information…’

Response from Kathy Faldt (LACA):

“OPEN discusion about local food security and sovereignity is what is needed. Intensive horticulture given as a right – or approved without meeting standards set for industry is the issue not market gardens.”

Response from us:

Yeah, that’s why my whole house stank of fertilizer on May 8 – and I live 100 metres from a ‘farm’. On April 10 we had yet another mass magpie dieoff after the same ‘farm’ did their usual spraying at this time of year. For the third year in a row dead magpies were sent to Biosecurity. This Council has refused to protect residents from the obvious affects of farms being set up WITHOUT THE RECOMMENDED BUFFER ZONES close to our homes. Council justifies this by claiming the farms are a rural use, not ‘commercial’. What BS. The vegies are harvested and sold and to my mind that is certainly ‘commercial’. And what about the lack of toilet and washing facilities on the Harvest Rd farms? How would you like people crapping and leaving it uncovered on YOUR fenceline. Stop the lies and Bullsh**, we all know that many of these farms treat their neighbours with contempt. And last year when residents complained the farms started a ridiculous and defamatory campaign in the local papers with the help of their rich mates at Growcom. Anyone who wants to read about the documented impacts on those of us living here, go to safegreenbanknow.wordpress.com and read the 58 submissions residents sent in to try to stop yet another intensive agriculture operation being set up too close to homes. It’s under one of the headings on the main page. Council now conducts this business in secret, which says it all.

Incidentally I have no desire to eat ‘food’ that’s produced using chemicals and pesticides, if these farmers had any foresight they’d go organic, in which case this whole community would gladly support them. But they choose to poison our living environment instead.  Given past incidents, including ‘farmers’ being busted with cock-fighting material, wads of cash, drugs, mysteriously exploding sheds, direct intimidation of complaining residents, crops which are planted, then left to die on the vine laden with fruit, and other bizarre and illegal activities – some local residents can’t help but wonder if there is a secret money trail to be followed and speculate openly where it might lead.

Instead of continually attacking the residents for pointing out these incidents, MS CROOKS might like to try to influence her peers who are NOT doing best practice to get with the programme and stop behaving like they have been.

RESPONSE FROM J. WELLS:

Come for a drive down Wirrabara drive if you want to see best practice. The whole perimeter turned to a wasteland with roundup, some sort of evil algae growing on the driveway, and also in the drain that runs into the creek.

Someone contacted me a couple of days later explaining that Ms Crooks is a ‘pleasant person’ we should engage with, but frankly this seemed pointless.  Here’s my response:

I choose not to engage with her personally as she doesn’t seem able to see the forest for the trees, and I feel it’s a waste of breath that’s better spent lobbying Council, State Government, etc.
The ‘taskforce’ under Beaudesert Council was reported fully on my website; in fact it was one of the first things we posted, with commentary.
Because of Anna Bligh’s amalgamations a lot of hard work by many people – including LACA and Lisa – on this issue went down the drain.
I understand her frustration at having to go over the same ground – but that is not the fault of those of us with objections to poor farming practices in Greenbank.
There ARE State government guidelines, put together IN CONSULTATION WITH FARMERS’ GROUPS (including Growcom, Australian Cotton Growers, etc);  these guidelines (SPP 1/92) are what we have been asking Council to implement in their new planning guide.
If the farms would just comply with the guidelines that they helped write, there would be no problems.
The Guidelines are quite clear regarding buffer zones, impacting on neighbours, chemical use and storage, etc.
The farms in Greenbank are not compliant, and there have been many breaches, which they have sought to cover up.
I don’t doubt that Lisa herself practices ‘best practice’ but that is NOT true of the Harvest/Farm/Begley Road farms in Greenbank.
She needs to read the residents’ submissions against the Harvest Road protected horticulture development to get a sense of what’s been happening out here for far too long.   I personally believe some (if not all) the Greenbank farms are fronts for organised crime and money laundering – hence we’ve witnessed unharvested crops withering on the vine, banned chemicals washing down the creek, flooding on resident’s properties (including mine) after a farm filled in the creek (!), improper storage of pesticides causing explosions in hot weather, busts for meth labs and cockfighting rings, midnight spraying and soil removal to remove evidence of misconduct, wildlife deaths ….
I was very disappointed that Lisa participated in the prolonged character assassination against Greenbank residents in the local press last year, led by Growcom CEO Alex Livingston, who trotted out the old ‘heavily regulated’ and ‘best practice’ furphys while doing nothing to help resolve the situation.
None of these people are prepared to step up and censure those in their ranks who are doing the wrong thing, preferring to paint all farmers as wonderful neighbours and good corporate citizens, and the residents as greenie extremists who are ‘anti-farmer’ (which is not at all true).  The videos and the submissions to Council that are archived on our blog show clearly that something is seriously wrong but these people have refused to respond to them.
Bottom line is, for Lisa this is all about HER bottom line.  Fair enough, she is in business after all.
But defending the indefensible is not helpful to either her business’ – or the industry’s – image.
We have lobbied – and will continue to lobby – for SP1/92 to be enshrined in the new Planning Scheme so that what residents here have experienced will not be repeated.
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