Ian and Connie Barnes are Australian born banana farmers who run ‘We Own A’ in Mission Beach, 140 kilometres south of Cairns, Queensland. 
Ian and Connie Barnes

Starting with Ian’s grandfather, farming has been passed down through the generations and both Ian and his brother own and run farms in the Cassowary Coast region.

The current farm Ian and Connie are on was purchased by Ian’s father in 1956. Ian and Connie bought it to continue the farming legacy. Their four children, however, have chosen different paths with one becoming a speech therapist, one a school teacher and two currently still studying. There is a possibility one or two of their children may still choose farming as a career however currently they are looking elsewhere.

Ian and Connie are lucky enough to be located in the dreamy Cassowary Coast region in Mission Beach which is the closest point to the Great Barrier Reef from the mainland and is flanked by lush rainforests making it a must-see Australian holiday destination.

Source: Ian & Connie Barnes

Growing bananas is a year-round job and keeps them both busy with the different aspects of running a farm.

The farm is a critical local business as it generally employs 15 – 20 staff and uses mainly locals and tops up with backpackers.

The biggest challenges faced by farmers according to Ian and Connie would be the continual increase in paperwork, audits and other requirements when dealing with the major supermarkets. The costs and time taken for audits to be completed continues to grow making breaking even harder to achieve.

At the moment with low fruit volumes, Ian and Connie are just able to cover wages and get by which is difficult for most people to understand due to the huge hours and amount of work they have put in to make this a thriving business.

Source: Ian & Connie Barnes

Ian and Connie say they are lucky with bananas as they always come good, when the fruit is bad, they can always rectify this with fertiliser or water to bring this back.

They love their farming life but one day would love to have a bit more time off with the family.

For labour needs, contact either QITE, the area’s Harvest Trail Service provider on 1800 354 414 or the Harvest Trail Information Service on 1800 062 332.