Tucked away on Steve Irwin Way is a humble little fresh produce store. You might have driven past it, but have you stopped and looked inside? If you do, you will get a pleasant surprise! We met owner, Neil Federer, who supplies and sells chemical-free, local, fresh produce to the community. We discussed why local fresh food is a better choice and he shared a few insider secrets on his permaculture market garden.
by Angela Reedman-Polinksi
Neil Federer is the owner and manager of the popular Everything Good store at Glasshouse Mountains. The store supplies a broad range of chemical-free fruit and vegetables from local farms and a thriving market garden.
“Our entire garden took a hit with the recent hailstorm and we lost a lot of plants. We have been nourishing and supporting those crops back again and that’s a slow but steady process.”
Working with over 75 local growers, Neil is a friendly, familiar face in the produce community and a strong example of the power of buying locally.
“My goal has always been to see what I can buy locally and grow the rest myself. We need to support our local farmers who are coping with heat, drought, floods and hail to bring us fresh food.
“The wonderful owners, Les and Marge, at local Sandy Creek Organic Farm have been an inspiration to me.
“Our growing space here on the property is abundant but space is limited. They have shared a few much-appreciated rows of land with me to grow our summer bean crop – purple, yellow, borlotti and green beans.”
Neil actively uses permaculture strategies through customised waste and water management designs and by ensuring more than half of the garden soil is rested throughout the year for rejuvenation.
The business reflects Neil’s values as it aims for practical hands-on sustainability, community connection and nurturing support of the land.
“Our motto is ‘No Waste – Respect the Food’, one we manage by feeding the excess produce to the chickens. Through our permaculture garden design, the rain rolls from the chicken yard onto the plants to fertilise them naturally.
“We use permaculture methods for all of our weed control and all our compost gets rolled forward onto the garden.
“We also have no skip needed with directly managing all of our compost on-site. At the end of each week, we use just one small household wheelie bin for the whole business.”
Many people are now wanting to learn more about their food, where it comes from and how it affects their health. Neil shares how the welcoming community and eating fresh, local, healthy food has impacted his life powerfully.
“I love that customers come in for the local produce and a chat the first time and then they become regulars.
“I have travelled through a few really difficult patches in my life and have faced my share of family health issues, financial struggles and particularly dark times.
“Some days for me were about building strength and learning compassion and others were just focusing on surviving. Everyone has their own battles and at times, they can feel insurmountable.
“As a community, we are in this together to help support and encourage each other. It truly makes a difference.
“I am still here, and I want to live my life and run my business my way. To me, providing fresh produce is not all about money and gain, it is about community, healthy foundations and respecting nature.”
Neil’s passion for healthy food and the power that lies in good, nutritious real produce is clear to see and hear in our conversation.
“I can’t understand the logic in thinking that it’s not worth spending a little extra on good quality local fruit while spending $25 a kilogram for a takeaway meat pie.”
Every job has its good and bad aspects and on any given day, he can meet anyone coming through the doors. Neil shared a moment from a day where he rescued a small pup from a dogfighting fan.
“We had a bloke passing through the shop and in conversation I learned he was disposing of a puppy that was not considered ‘fit’ for the dogfighting scene. I was mortified!
“I took the puppy from his car and sent him on his way with a few choice words. That puppy grew up here to be our loyal Lily and she is part of the family now, watching over the chickens and crops.”
In balance for the harder days, there are many more bright days and Neil has a favourite perk of the job in managing Everything Good.
“The best part is that I just love this community and being a part of it. The customers who choose to shop here, do it mindfully, as they know they have choices.
“I hear success stories from people winning in chronic illness battles and I get to see people grow stronger and fitter as they improve the quality of the food they eat.
“We have also grown and adapted for our customers by adding in requested products such as the Maleny Dairy range, local honey, grains, nuts and seeds. There are chutneys and sauces, a large range of herbal teas and specialty drinks alongside bunches of fresh herbs and organic spices.
“I feel like the luckiest guy in the world doing what I do every day and my customers reflect it right back to me.”
Drop-in and visit Neil at the store Monday to Sunday and meet the friendly team with a wealth of local knowledge. You might even get a sneak peek at Lily out in the back garden, watching over the chickens.