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Patience, positivity and persistence help farmer recover from shocking arson attack

Mick Dan crouches in a field with a daikon radish.
Mick Dan says patience, positivity, persistence and the support of the community helped them recover.

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols

At one o'clock in the morning this time last year, Mick Dan was woken by a shocking phone call that sent him rushing from his bed.

He arrived at his Good Harvest Organics store at Marcoola on the Sunshine Coast, to be confronted by the work of an arsonist.

A callous, deliberate act left the business a twisted, blackened mess. Two-and-a-half years of hard work was lost at the hands of a fire bug who has never been charged over the blaze.

The burnt out shop.
No charges have been laid over the arson attack that destroyed Good Harvest Organics in November, 2016.

Supplied: Good Harvest Organics

"Pretty devastating. It was all very raw at that stage and we didn't really know what direction we'd go in after that," Mr Dan said.

The passionate organic farmer and his partner, Kelly Burton, drew on all their inner strength and after visiting small-scale organic farmers in Tasmania rebuilt a business "without four walls".

A field of different vegetables.
The organic vegetables are sold to subscribers, restaurants and customers at the Hinterland Harvest markets.

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols

He praised the support of friends and committed customers as crucial to the recovery process.

"We have quite a few families subscribing to us throughout the year. Our goal is 200 and we're well on our way to that goal."

Boxes purchased by those subscribers are filled with seasonal produce grown by Mr Dan and other local organic farmers.

Hands holding small organic carrots.
These organic carrots have been pre-sold to restaurants.

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols

In a sloping paddock he leases at Woombye, vibrant silver beet, spring onions, potatoes, kale, cabbage, coriander, parsley and beetroot spring from rich red soil.

Bees buzz over the tangy tasting bright yellow flowers of rocket gone to seed.

"We'll plant for those customers. We've got 70 or 80 cabbages in front of us here and all of those cabbages are already sold.

Part of his organic farming business model involves selling direct to chefs.

Mick Dan bending over a young melon crop.
Mick Dan believes organic farming has a bright future.

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols

"Restaurants will come to us and we will exclusively grow products for them and I think that really helps them, I mean not only do they get the story of the local farmer but also it puts something different on their menu.

"I think with the system we have in Australia, we end up with a lot of the same variety of foods.

"We're diversifying as much as we can and that helps with the organic farming practice, the bugs can only take so many and then they're going to have to move on, because we've got such a variety of different products in the paddock. That's all built into our plan."

A box of Good Harvest Organics fruit and vegetables.
Good Harvest Organics supplies boxes of fruit and vegetables direct to subscribers.

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols

The 35-year-old juggles organic farming with work as a physics lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

He's crunched the numbers and believes the future of organics can be profitable.

"If the average wage in Australia was $80,000 a year and you were looking to earn $80,000 out of a farm, look, it's doable with a lot of hard work.

"Profitability is about supply and demand and at the moment we have a huge demand for organic local produce.

"Whether it's profitable comes down to how well you run your farm and how well you can sell it.

A bee on a rocket flower.
Bees were buzzing over organic vegetable fields, feasting on these rocket flowers.

ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols

Since January Good Harvest Organics has built a loyal following at Woombye's Hinterland Harvest markets on Saturdays.

Some faces are familiar, old customers who make the trip from Mudjimba. Others are newcomers.

"It's way more sustainable, we're growing organically here with no pesticides, no herbicides and our food is so much more nutritionally dense.

"There's a lot more people with dietary requirements and allergies and things like that and people who just want clean food."