This story first appeared in the October 2015 edition of Growcom's Fruit & Vegetable News magazine.
Farming family celebrates over 100 years of farming
The Moffat family have been farming for more than 100 years in the Glasshouse Mountains region and growing pineapples for nearly 100 of those years. Celebrating his 85th birthday this month, third generation farmer, Rick Moffat works with his sons, Stephen and Brian, operating Allandale Pines. Allandale Pines produces 600 tonnes of pineapples for Golden Circle and 400 tonnes of pineapples for the fresh market annually.
Rick’s farming career spans 72 years, farming the same block his grandfather, David Snr purchased after immigrating to Australia from Scotland with his wife and four children in 1911. “The original farm cost 269 pounds, 12 shillings and 6 pence and was purchased in 1913, with a deposit of 67 pounds, 12 shillings and 6 pence,” Stephen Moffat said.
“It was on this 17.4 hectare (43 acre) block of land where David Snr, and his eldest son David Jnr began farming cotton, corn, cane and small crops before finally settling on pineapples.” David Jnr met his wife Grace in 1922. In 1923 the final payment of 60 pounds was made on the property and David Jnr took over the running of the farm. David Jnr and Grace had three sons, David (named to carry on the family tradition), Les and Eric (Rick).
“During the 1930s, David Jnr expanded the farm onto the current farming blocks and named it Moffat & Sons,” Stephen said. “In 1946, long time neighbour and friend, Jim Fullerton approached David Jnr for money and a guarantee to start a co-op based cannery. “Most of the growers in the area were not happy with eight canneries operating simultaneously so growers banded together and Golden Circle was established in 1947.” David, Les and Rick took over the running of the farm in 1955 when David Jnr passed away.
It was in 1953 that Rick Moffat met his wife Margaret. They later married in 1955 before having four children - Stephen, Brian, Terry and Michelle. “Between having children and looking after the house, Mum worked on the farm harvesting pineapples during school hours, as most wives did,” Stephen said.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Les and Rick each had their two sons start on the farm. This was a time of great prosperity for the Moffat farm and the pineapple industry in general with production increasing with the help of machinery and technology. The ‘80s ended with the passing of Rick’s brother David in 1988. In 1991 Les and his sons, Wayne and Craig and Rick, and his sons, Stephen and Brian, paid out David’s wife, split the farm and started their own businesses - Moffat Farming Brothers and Allandale Pines respectively.
“Dad named Allandale Pines after the original homestead located on the property,” Stephen said. “Dad’s grandmother, whose maiden name was Allan, would compare the landscape to looking out over the dale in Scotland - hence the name Allandale came to be.” The Allandale Pines motto, ‘Dare to be Different’ was adopted in 1991. It reflected the growers’ willingness to always try different and innovative ways of farming. Les passed away in 2010 after a short illness, and just weeks before his death he could still be found out in the field harvesting.
Rick and Margaret said they had had a good life on the farm, and great holidays away from the farm. The couple have travelled around Australia and to overseas destinations including New Zealand, England and Europe and have attended pineapple tours in Hawaii and South Africa. Margaret retired from the farm in 1998 but Rick continues to work on the farm five days a week.
Rick believes old farmers who enjoy their job don’t need to retire. However, if and when Rick does decide to hang up his tin hat, grandson Shane will be there to carry on with his grandfather’s job on the farm.