Troy and Vicki Muller are the proud owners of Peak Veggie Patch located at Peak Crossing just outside Ipswich in South East Queensland.
Helping grow a sustainable tomato business
With the help of a Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) Sustainability Loan and the couple’s passion for both quality and flavoursome produce, the Mullers have grown their hobby into an exciting business venture.
Troy and Vicki started out growing their own speciality Heirloom tomatoes as a hobby and packaged some on the weekend to sell at several 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 the 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”.
Since the greenhouse expansion the Muller’s are able to rotate a variety of crops. Troy estimates that the business has grown roughly 30-40% 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.”
“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 agribusiness 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.”