When Jeff Moon ran out of water for cotton growing, rockmelons became the bedrock of his flourishing agriculture business.
Story By Dana Gluzde
Jeff Moon enjoys the view from the verandah of his house on a small acreage in St George, southern Queensland. He looks out at the green lawn and lush gardens as his wife, Pam, provides some country hospitality. “I love St George,” he says. “I never thought when I left Laidley that I would go to another place and like it as much as I liked it down there. The people here are nice people – you have an identity in a town like St George.
I believe there’s more opportunity here than in a lot of places.”
Opportunity isn’t something Jeff has let pass by. Drought and increasing water restrictions forced him to diversify his cotton business 13 years ago. Now, rockmelons are the Moon family’s main crop. They supply fruit across Australia and export to South-East Asia, launching a great brand – Moonrocks – in the process.
A fourth-generation farmer, Jeff spent most of his life on his father’s property in Laidley, in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley. Here, diversification made its first impression on Jeff. “That farm has been in our family for about 120 years, and my brother is still there,” he says. “First of all we were dairy farmers, then we went to vegetable farming. We grew cabbage, onions, rockmelons, broccoli and cauliflower. We were one of the first growers of broccoli in the Lockyer Valley.”
When it became apparent that the farm would not support two growing families, Jeff and his family left the hilly land of Laidley for the flat country of “Gillebri”, near St George. “In 1979 we came to St George to grow cotton – and only cotton,” he says. “I’d had enough growing vegies.”
This story excerpt is from Issue #53
Outback Magazine: June/July 2007