Family farm now a huge enterprise
NESTLED in the Lockyer Valley is an unassuming company that could be one of the nation's biggest farming operations.
The century-old Rugby Farm has grown from a family run farm to an operation spanning 11 separate sites across the state.
They provide fresh produce daily to every capital city in Australia.
The opening of the new Coles site in downtown Ipswich has seen the city become one of the farm's most important centres.
After spending most of its history as a farm like any other across the country, Rugby Farm boomed after agreeing to supply Coles with fresh produce.
Rugby Farm director Matt Hood said after starting to supply the massive supermarket chain the farm began to expand to increase its production.
"We've been suppliers of Coles supermarkets for 15 years now," he said.
"We have 11 separate sites spread across 1500km. The main driver in our expansion was about being able to grow each crop 12 months of the year in the best climate for it."
Since Mr Hood's grandfather started the farm in 1912 the operation has expanded to farms in the Darling Downs, Stanthorpe and North Queensland, as well as the Lockyer Valley, and employs more than 400 people statewide.
"Ipswich is obviously a very important store to us, being so close to our Lockyer Valley operations.
"The Lockyer Valley is obviously our home base and still very important to us."
Mr Hood said Rugby Farm had outgrown the stereotypical image of a lone farmer on a tractor doing all the work.
"The picture people have of a farmer can be a bit outdated," he said.
"I'm not saying the way we operate is the only way, or even the best way.
"We can struggle with the conditions of industry as much as anyone.
"But for us it's not like the old days when anyone not in the paddocks wasn't helping.
"Now we have a lot of bums on seats.
"You need people in finance and in marketing too these days.
"We have a lot of bums on seats."