When the Pitcairners arrived on Norfolk Island in 1856, they inherited a huge store of foodstuffs, numerous tools, agricultural equipment and considerable stock left behind by the former convict community. For many years the Norfolk descendants were solely dependent upon subsistence farming and fishing, plus imports of non-locally-grown materials. Crops raised were chiefly maize, sweet potatoes (kumeras) and yams. A little coffee was grown. Bananas, guavas, passionfruit, oranges, strawberries and vegetables of all kinds were cultivated around island homes. Local industry attempts at banana, fruit pulp, citrus fruit and bean seeds grown for export in the early 1900s, all failed for various reasons.
Matt Bigg is a seventh generation descendant, with lineage from Fletcher Christian and Matthew Quintal. He grew up on Norfolk Island and attended the local school until completing his final years at boarding school in Melbourne. Returning to the island he worked for fifteen years as a qualified automotive mechanic. In 2003 he decided to turn his hobby and passion of farming into a full time occupation, “…from grease, noise and oil, to the peace and quiet of plants and soil. My wife, Susie and I decided to set up our own business called Bigg Fresh.” The family property in Steeles Point hosts rich soil with an abundant water supply. By using natural rock minerals to further improve soil conditions, Matt has expanded his innate knowledge of growing produce on Norfolk, to include all natural farming techniques. It is an ongoing practice of promoting added nutritional value to the produce grown, to achieve higher yields and to maintain effective pest disease resistant methods. Bigg Fresh produces a wide variety of fruit and vegetables grown in the soil as well as hydroponic lettuces and cucumbers.
Norfolk Island has a long established, rich history of growing fruits and vegetables that have been shared by father and mother to son and daughter over the past 150 years. This history naturally applied the sustainable methods that are now the focus of the current worldwide movement in returning to organic gardening. A recent on-island agricultural seminar was conducted by Graeme Sait, co-founder of the Queensland company, Nutri-Tech Solutions (NTS) and sponsored by the Norfolk Island Government. Local growers were provided with guidelines on how to further achieve high production sustainable agriculture, covering aspects of mineral, microbe, plant nutrition and pest management and protection.
To re-emphasise and ‘remember’ the technical know-how of organic gardeners, with a basic scientific understanding of the micro-ecosystems that combine to form the garden ecosystem and henceforth a relationship to the wider ecology, forms the vision of Bigg Fresh.
By supporting our local primary producers as they strive for sustainability and nutritional balance in their growing operations continues a Norfolk tradition. The result you will find is the healthiest fruit and vegetables you have ever tasted, chemical-free and bursting with vitamins and minerals which completely nourishes you, your family and the whole community. To those who love fresh crisp lettuces, sweet crunchy peas, mouth-watering sweetcorn, juicy flavoursome tomatoes… enjoy!!
Image Credit: Robin Nisbet
Article content disclaimer: Article first published in 2899 Magazine V1 Iss1, 2008. Please note that details of specific travel, accommodation and touring options may be outdated. References to people, places and businesses, including operating days and times may be have changed. References to Government structure and Government businesses/entities may no longer be applicable. Please check directly with businesses and/or Government websites directly rather than relying on any information contained in this article before you make travel arrangements.