Norah and Bernie had a large family. Post WWII brought tough economic times and it was often a struggle to keep a young family fed with a healthy balanced diet. They realised that they needed to raise their own sheep, cows and pigs and chickens, the latter two cleaning up left overs such as potato peels, and outer leaves from leafy greens. A home garden that required hand weeding and harvesting of vegetables while an orchard provided an abundance of in season fruit that needed to be picked supplemented the groceries that the family purchased and provided a way for Bernie and Norah to instill the hard working ethos that the family and subsequent generations maintain today.
Norah and Bernie Balle embedded some simple principles that their family continues to align themselves with today.
- Waste not, want not.
- Eat local and in season.
- Make every trip count.
- Quality doesn't cost; It pays.
Waste Reduction Best Practices
One of the biggest challenges today for households and businesses and the public sector is to reduce all kinds of waste.
Balle Bros' ensure that no surplus produce goes to landfills. Any vegetables that are not suitable for selling to the fresh market are sorted and transported to the family farm where cattle happily devour and convert into fresh milk and meat.
We are actively working on ways to further implement composting of green leafy matter together with other fibrous materials such as wood shavings ,straw and foul manure.
At Balle Bros, we strive to help avoid the depletion of our precious and finite natural resources by implementing best practices and availing of the most up to date technologies available. An important part of this is ensuring that equipment is modern and fuel efficient to reduce greenhouse gases and help reduce demand for fossil fuels.
Crop rotation is the practice of minimising growing the same crop in the same field as much as possible. Balle Bros grow not only a wide selection of food crops but also ”cover crop" species to ensure that rotations can be as wide as possible. The cover crops include oats, barley, clover and mustard. Mustard along with some members of grass species have natural bio fumigation properties that when chopped up finely and incorporated back into the soil with cultivation. These practices helps reduce buildup of pests and diseases that are specific to one kind of plant species and help minimise the need for artificial crop husbandry products.
Balle Bros have their own fleet of modern trucks that are fuel efficient and these are largely High Productivity Motor Vehicles ( HPMV’s ). These trucks are able to operate at heavier weights of 50 tonnes gross on most roads due to longer configurations and extra axles. Under special permits on certain roads these trucks are also able to operate at gross weights up to 58 tonnes. Whenever possible, “back loading” is utilised; a principle etched early into the young minds of the family of making every vehicle trip count.
Third party transport companies work closely together with BalleBros to reduce empty vehicle transport movements. This means that there are less truck trips required for the same volume of produce which not only reduces greenhouse gases but actually lessens wear and tear on roads. Most importantly these practices help reduce the cost of fresh produce and keep healthy food affordable for all. Tractors are kept up to date, are operated efficiently as possible, and are often double shifted. Equipment nearing their end of economic lifespan are either on-sold, scrapped, or are retained for lighter duties.
Bernie was forever planting acorns (oak tree seeds). For the last 20 years the family has continued to plant trees, however they now plant almost exclusively native trees. Large areas of once ragwort and gorse infested gullies now have becomes sanctuaries for native flora and fauna. These newly planted areas often link up with existing remnant bush and wetlands providing wildlife corridors and wider and more expansive natural spaces. Take some time to look at the photograph gallery which have all been taken at the family farms