Troy and Vicki Muller are the proud owners of Peak Crossing tomato farm, Peak Veggie Patch, in the Scenic Rim.
With the help of a Sustainability Loan from the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA), and their passion for quality and flavoursome produce, the Mullers have grown their hobby into an exciting business venture.
Troy and Vicki started out growing their own specialty Heirloom tomatoes as a hobby and packaged some on weekends to sell at farmers markets in Brisbane, with any extra going to the local fruit shops.
“We had fantastic feedback from our customers whilst doing what we were passionate about and soon realised our hobby had turned into a strong and growing market,” Troy said.
Troy had a strong background in the fresh produce industry, being the son of a fruiterer, studying horticulture and having previously worked as a vegetable seed representative for 25 years.
Troy’s career took him not only throughout Australia but also overseas and included looking for suitable seed varieties for Australian growing conditions.
When looking at their own businesses, Troy and Vicki knew they wanted to expand.
“We were doing well but realised we weren’t big enough, and to make the business viable and sustainable we needed to expand our farming operation by increasing our existing greenhouse production capacity,” Troy said.
The Mullers decided to build a third, larger greenhouse on their property with the assistance of a QRIDA Sustainability Loan.
For the Mullers, when applying for the finance, it was the business support QRIDA offered that really stood out.
“They made us sit down and look at our business and create a strong plan moving forward. QRIDA made us really look at what we were doing, where we are going and potentially what we could do,” Troy said.
Since the greenhouse expansion, the Mullers have been able to rotate a variety of crops.
Troy estimates the business has grown by about 30 to 40 per cent, with the extra space making their business sustainable.
“The extra greenhouse has enabled us to produce enough Heirloom tomatoes to expand our current Brisbane and interstate market sales,” he said.
“It’s hard work and you need to separate yourself from the crowd. For us it was our unique, flavoursome produce along with outstanding quality that gave us an edge, a real point of difference. Then, with the help of QRIDA, we were able to become more sustainable long term.”
All applications for financial assistance from QRIDA are assessed against eligibility criteria, with a strong focus on building viable agribusinesses long term, helping clients like Troy and Vicki gain greater insight into their business now and into the future.
“I would recommend QRIDA to those seeking assistance. With our children now grown up and enjoying being involved the business, we may seek QRIDA’s support in succession planning one day.”
For more information, visit www.qrida.qld.gov.au or freecall 1800 623 946.
Sustainability Loans are an initiative of the Queensland Government’s Primary Industry Productivity Enhancement
Scheme, administered by QRIDA.