Thursday, March 2, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
For Jessica Volker, a Bowen local and ex-dentistry student, becoming an organic farmer in the Lower Don was not in the script.
Yet the now treasurer of Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, agronomic scientist, and consultant is in her third season of owning and operating her farm: Bio Lower Don Organics.
"I did not think my husband and I were going to be farmers – I never thought that would happen but it is seriously the best thing we have ever done,” Mrs Volker said.
Mrs Volker, although growing up in the horticultural hotspot of Bowen, had no experience in the agricultural world. Instead, her expertise was as a young dental assistant in town – eventually moving to the Gold Coast to study the profession.
“The thing I loved about dentistry was helping someone who was coming to see you – to get someone out of a jam, in a sense,” she said.
“When I started studying, I had to do a lot of science subjects, which ended up being agricultural. That was when it clicked that I loved agriculture and made the switch to agronomy.
“Now I’m helping farmers out of a jam in a way. I'm the go-to when you have a problem. It's like what I liked about dentistry but very different; only it still a people-person sort of job where you’re solving a problem.”
Mrs Volker moved back to Bowen to work in agricultural consultancy before starting her farm with her husband, Luke. The pair knew they “had to do something different” to stand out in Bowen.
“That’s why we decided to go certified organic,” she said.
“What we love about farming is the lifestyle it has given us. It’s a back-to-basics job. It’s lovely being out there planting and picking, it’s cliché to say but it’s very wholesome and special.”
With eggplant, tomato, chilli, mangos, and more, Mrs Volker and her family have found their passion in the Lower Don.
Bowen-born Jessica Volker became an agronomic scientist and local farmer after a switch from studying dentistry