Meet You At The Markets, Part 7:  Mike the passionfruit man

From the easygoing and laidback nature of the exchanges Mike shares with his customers, you would never guess that this calm comedy fan once worked in the in the hustle and bustle of Shanghai.

Growing up amongst the beauty of the Northern Rivers, Mike has always held the lustre of our gorgeous home close to his heart. However, in 2007 he moved to Shanghai, China to run his thriving business running childcare centres and family events, and lived there for 12 years.

The workload eventually took its toll, unfortunately leading to burn out, prompting he and his wife to move home to Australia in 2018, where they decided to get into farming by collaborating with the most experienced passionfruit growers in the region.

Leasing a three-acre plot from an established family farm in Newyrbar, not far from where Mike grew up, he and his wife Isis planted their passionfruit crop three years ago, inspired by a holiday to Fiji, where the luscious vines grow abundantly.

Farming has been a welcome change of pace, with Mike stating that farming is teaching him to “go with the flow a little bit, as Mother Nature will determine how you go.”

Their fruit speaks for itself; the scent of the freshly cut passionfruit filling a room with its sweet and delicious smell.

When I asked Mike about the challenges of farming he said the hardest part was keeping up with demand.  He and his wife often sell out of stock at the markets they operate at, and whatever small amount of fruit is left over is cut and pulped to sell to their customers in jars, ready to serve.

They also sell refreshing drinks – passionate flamingos – sweet passionfruit pulp mixed in with soda water, served on ice – the perfect treat on a warm Goldy day.

Their farm consists of 2500 vines, and when Mike isn’t tending to the vines, or pulping unsold fruit, you will catch him at a stand-up comedy gig around the Gold Coast or Byron Bay.

Every four years the vines they farm need to be replanted to optimise their fruit production and this is done through a process of grafting new baby vines to established plants.  Fortunately, COVID has seen sales increase and they hope to expand their crop in the future by planting more vines and increasing their growing capacity.

Passionfruit is a seasonal crop and when the fruit is flourishing you can catch Mike or Isis at the Currumbin Markets – Thursday mornings, Burleigh and Palm Beach Markets Saturday and Bundall HOTA Markets of a Sunday.

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