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Winter 2015

Australian Tropical Delights

For many of us who enjoy either our own or someone else’s culinary efforts, ginger is a highly valued ingredient that is available year-round. Whether it is stir-fries, biscuits, cakes, sushi platters or a host of other dishes, ginger in any of its forms not only adds flavour and zing but its high gingerol content also provides anti-nausea, anti-inflammato- ry and antibacterial properties. Recent studies even seem to suggest that ginger may help maintain a stable blood sugar, so it is not surprising that some consumers have had success growing ginger in their backyards. However, most of us in Australia are likely to enjoy fresh or processed ginger grown in the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay–Burnett regions, which contain an abundance of mineral rich, red earth soils and experience high tempera- tures and humidity, and high rainfall during summer. One of the key centres for the Queensland ginger industry is Buderim, located on a plateau 180 metres or so above sea level, around 7 kilometres south-west of Mooloolaba and 90 klm north of Brisbane. Sugar has been grown in the Buderim area since the 1870s, with bananas, coffee and citrus being other popular local early crops. Ginger growing started in Buderim in 1916, but it was the difficulties with supply brought in by the Second World War that resulted in a growth spurt for the industry.

In those war years, Allan Templeton was a young man who owned one of the first delivery trucks in the area. He was given some seed ginger by an early grower called Mr Anderson, and that was the beginning of Templeton Ginger, a leading ginger producer currently located in Eumundi (25-odd kilometres north of Buderim). Allan and his wife Valmay started their farm with a policy of ‘hard work and a hands-on approach’, and this continues to define the way in which Allan and Valmay’s son John and their grandchildren Shane and Kylie conduct business. The combined efforts of these three generations of Templetons have seen the business grow to become one of the main Australian produc- ers in the industry, supplying the market with about two and a half thousand tonnes of high-quality ginger per year.

The Templetons have been closely related to key elements of the ginger industry from the beginning. Allan Templeton together with four other farmers founded the Buderim Ginger Growers Co-Operative in 1941. In 1989, the co-operative became a public listed company, and it is now generally regarded as the ‘back bone’ of the industry. Indeed, production of ginger for Buderim Ginger is the main focus of production for most ginger growers in Australia. John and Shane Templeton have continued to support Buderim Ginger. John’s daughter, Kylie, also served for ten years as the secretary of the Australian Ginger Growers’ Association, established to support ginger growers. Kylie is currently in charge of the sales, distribution and marketing side of Templeton Ginger.

John Templeton was instrumental in achieving increased crop volume and quality in Templeton Ginger. Mechanisation has been a key way of increasing production, and John was at the forefront of the mechanisation of the ginger industry. Shane, who guides the growing and financial sides of Templeton Ginger, sees mechanisation as necessary for the industry’s success in an increas- ingly competitive international market. The team at Vanderfield Gympie, led by manager Andrew Ross, have provided the Templetons’ with different John Deere machines and continue to serve their needs. A recent innovation that Shane Templeton is excited about is incorporating GreenStar GPS to their farming practices. Adapting to new technologies is a step valued by Shane because new technologies ‘decrease costs and increase efficiency’.

The ginger industry, however, has gone through some hard times recently. Shane points out that production has been affected by a number of factors, notably Pythium disease. Pythium damages the root and the rhizome of plants and leads to crop losses. Pythium-related losses started off small about seven years ago, but, quite unexpectedly, 30% of the Templeton Ginger crop was wiped out in one year not long after that. This event, naturally, made this family do some ‘soul searching’. For Shane, who is focused on sustainable agricultural practices, wholistic management is one key to overcoming this sort of problem, and a range of measures, including but not limited to meticulous cleaning of boots and equipment to avoid cross-con- tamination, and carefully planned crop-rotation, were applied.

John, Kylie and Shane are pleased to be able to look at those times ‘from the other side’, though, with this year finally set to be a bumper year of good quality produce once again. And so this family continues to provide a valuable contribution to the sector, to our palates and to their community. In fact, their passion and initiative extend to a number of fields; John Templeton, for instance, is a former successive Queensland Association of Dance Studios Latin Champion, and the current principal of Templeton Dance Studios in Eumundi, where dancers of all levels can enhance their skills while having a great time in air-conditioned comfort. But that is another yarn...

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