Originally part of a dairy farm, the property became a large flower farm, Flowerville, in the 1960’s. Many local people were involved with the construction and later jobs were available for planting and harvesting of the flowers until the large floods in February 1984, destroyed all the fences and crops. During the flood the water levels reached to above the lower windows of the building which is still used at the farm. After the flood the owner ceased trading completely and let the farm to the Macedonian Society until the 1990’s.
After that Illawarra Environmental Enterprises Inc (IEE) took over and the property became a Community Farm. The IEE achieved Certified Organic Status for growing vegetables and herbs with National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia NASAA.
In 2001 the farm was purchased by Lance Carr (still the current owner), who set up Mountain Range Nursery which ‘worked’ alongside the existing Community Farm.
On 15th November 2004 the name IEE was changed to Dapto Community Farm Inc. and by 2011 membership had grown to over 150 people..
Grants have been given:
2005 - 2 Large Water Tanks and repair of irrigation were granted by the Federal Government and Sydney Water
Work For the Dole was successfully run for 3 ½ years and raised $5000 - $6000 per year. This was used for machinery and repairs.
A Land Care Grant was used for replanting Mullet Greek with native trees and shrubs. Wollongong City Council removed the willows and supplied mulch for the walkway that was uncovered along the creek.
Smaller grants for building an awning onto the greenhouse and for purchase of tools, mowers, cultivators, compost bins and wheelbarrows etc. have also been given.
In 2011 some of the members decided that they wanted to form a new group across the road from the farm, where they could grow fruit trees. They have called it Mullet Creek Permaculture Garden and Land Care has continued the work on Mullet Creek at that location.
At one stage before 2001 the farm had been treated as a tip and the new owner, along with community farm members, spent a lot of time starting to clean up the farm.
During the last 9 years Dapto Community Farm has completed the cleanup and we are now looking for new ways to promote sustainable methods always using Organic Principles. Our weeds are plentiful and a new composting method is in progress inspired by a Composting information session held at the farm in May 2013.
Membership is about 100 as at July 2015 and we always welcome new members.
Creating harmony and peace among all our members is important to us all.
Thanks to Jim Bendfeldt, who was the Project Coordinator in 1994, we are lucky enough to be able to add to the above history of the farm.
Jim's own words are used to explain the photo's below.
Newspaper clipping in the Illawarra Mercury in 1994 before the project commenced.
How we found the property in January 1995. It was one enormous junk heap. This was the rear of the main building. Thousands of drums everywhere, lots of rubbish on an industrial scale. Watch what happens to the boat.
Photo of the same area taken three months later, after the cleanup.
The market garden taking shape in 1996
Tomato and lettuce crops. We experimented with just about anything that would grow. We trialled new pest control methods
More crops, this time red cabbages and leeks
The front of the building with the vegetable mural in early 1997.
I had spent months hand painting every vegetable on light marine ply on my kitchen table.
The graphics were eventually attached to the front of the building, but had disappeared by 2001.
The Bafca crew in 1997. We would take this stall to local markets and market days at Wollongong University.