Turmeric paste turns farmers' luck
COES Creek farmers Gjenie Erbacher and her husband, Michael, had no idea what turmeric was when a relative asked if they could grow it eight or so years ago.
Their fruit and vegetable broker was similarly perplexed when they did manage a crop.
"He said, 'What's turmeric?' and we said, 'We don't know but we've grown some'. He said to send some down and see if someone buys it, so for the last eight years, we've sent a couple of boxes down," Mrs Erbacher said.
But the turmeric looks like becoming more than just a side crop for the Erbachers.
A paste made by Mrs Erbacher from the chemical-free turmeric she and her husband grow has become a hit since she began producing it commercially three weeks ago.
More than 500 people liked a post that her husband put on Facebook and Mrs Erbachers Turmeric Paste is being stocked for sale by five businesses on the Sunshine Coast and Woodford.
The golden paste is a silver lining to a dark cloud for the Erbachers, who were finding times tough after a fall in the price of ginger.
Mrs Erbacher, who has been making the paste for pets and family and friends for a couple of years, decided to try selling it to help pay the bills and has been stunned by the response.
"I'm still a bit excited and taken aback. It's been a real struggle," she said.
The paste is now being stocked by Sandale Saddlery at Glenview, TLC Pet Food at Mooloolaba, Delaneys Creek Vege Boxes, Erbachers Fruit and Vegetables at Diddillibah, and Sunray Nursery at Nambour.
Mrs Erbacher said the support from other local and family operated businesses had been great.
"I think that's what matters the most to me. People are loving the paste but to see the support from the community for a farmer giving something a go like this and to see other family businesses take it on," she said.
Turmeric has become a popular "medicine food" because it contains curcumin, which is said to have anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties which help conditions such as arthritis but research is also looking at its benefits in cases of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's.
Mrs Erbacher does not vouch for its properties.
But she said an old horse who was starting to feel his age was now back out in the paddock kicking up his heels with the young ones since they began feeding him the paste and her husband, who tore a rotor cuff in his shoulder, had less pain after taking it.
"We only say what we use it for and give it a go and see if you feel like you get benefit from it," she said.
She hopes the success of the paste will encourage other farmers to look at growing turmeric as a side crop.
"I'd like to think that turmeric has a strong future, that it won't be just a phase," she said.