Australians lettuce all rejoice – and not take farmers for granted

In the lead up to 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.

Starting from scratch with $20,000

The Dipples started Bare Essentials Quality Vegetables in Queensland’s 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.

“We had a dream to have our own farm,” Janne said.

“The great thing about the Lockyer Valley is it’s known as the salad bowl. This region supplies a lot of Australian tables. It’s also close to Brisbane and the Gold Coast where our family and friends are, and just far enough out of the city to be in the country.”

Bare Essentials supplies the Brisbane wholesale markets at Rocklea with leafy salad vegetables and herbs that are stocked by local greengrocers, used by restauranteurs, or sent to outlets around the country.

“The market and our customers are always evolving,” Brendan explained.

“Depending on what people want each week, we’re always picking up new lines and dropping stuff while we’re growing, processing and packing.”

Weather affects the whole community, not just farmers

The Dipples’ farm has been underwater five times in the past two years and endured extreme heat and hail. But Brendan doesn’t view the weather as only impacting farmers – it’s something that affects the whole community.

“In my head, the weather we have to deal with is the norm, and it’s not just the farmer’s problem, it’s a community problem. None of us can get away from that. Lately we’ve had a lot of extreme events, all stacked up behind one another.

“Extreme heat in the 2019 drought meant it was too hot to grow anything, and we had to use salty water, which makes it harder to grow quality vegetables. Then we went straight into heavy rain and lost a lot of topsoil because the soil was loose from the drought.

“We had a good run during 2023 where everything was stable and we worked like mad. 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 on hand to help

As Mates Day approaches, Rural Aid CEO, John Warlters, said the recurring weather events were often behind skyrocketing prices on fresh produce and 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.

“These events are the catalyst for our lettuce to suddenly cost $12, or we can’t get those potato chips on our plate because our potato crops have been wiped out.

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

Both Brendan and Janne can see how necessary Rural Aid is in helping farmers deal with their challenges. For Janne, it’s a case of agriculture – both food and fibre – belonging to everybody.

“People should get behind Mates Day and donate to Rural Aid, because it really does support everybody whether you’re a farmer or not, and anyone who donates reaps the benefit of it,” she said.

To support Rural Aid’s Mates Day campaign or to make a donation, visit All donations received will contribute to the important work Rural Aid is undertaking in rural and regional communities and supporting Australian farmers.

Click here to watch Brendan and Janne’s story and learn more about some of the challenges facing them as farmers.

Media enquiries:
Kate Scott
0438 389 092

Stacey Wordsworth
0438 394 371

About Rural Aid 
Rural Aid is Australia’s most trusted rural charity. We stand with our farmers when they need us most. Rural Aid provides critical support to farmers affected by natural disaster through financial, wellbeing and fodder assistance. Rural Aid’s community programs help create more sustainable communities by building stronger futures for all Australian farmers. Find out more at 

Source: Channel 7