Early years on the farm

  05/08/2018 at 06:48 am

Biase Michele (Michael) Costantini arrived in Australia from Italy in 1952.

The war had taken its toll on the little village of Ari in the central Italian Abruzzo region, and an offer from the local administrator to immigrate and start fresh, albeit on the other side of the world, was an opportunity too good to refuse.

After a few years following the typical migrant trail of work in the sugarcane fields and labouring on major infrastructure projects, “Mike” found himself working for Mt Isa Mines.  There he met his future wife, Betty Putland, working in the local store with her sister. 

The young couple were keen to get ahead in life, and Mike was also keen to get back to the land. Having grown up in an era and area where you ate what you could grow, it was a natural desire to want to find some property and turn it into a farm and home.

Fortune smiled on them when Betty’s brother offered to sell them some of his land in 1957 and ten acres in Narangba was the starting point.

Mike and Betty lived in a shed until they built their own home on the property. At the same time Mike was working on the railway to earn some money, as well as preparing the land to grow crops.

In the early days, pineapples, gherkins, zucchini and strawberries were grown, picked and taken in to the Roma Street Markets in the early hours of the morning to be sold.

But with a growing family, five children by 1968, Mike knew he needed to think bigger.

Many people thought he was mad when he made the decision to farm chickens. 

The original corrugated iron chicken shed that Mike built from bush timber still stands on the farm today, though these days they only house half a dozen chooks and a horse.

There was no doubt it was a risky venture at the time, but through determination and hard work, the business grew from strength to strength and two large and more modern (for the time) sheds were erected.

When retirement beckoned in the late nineties, the farm lay dormant for a number of years, though Betty always tended a garden and grew plenty of food for the whole family.

But youngest son Len always knew he would return to the land of his childhood and in 2007, he and his wife Renee, built their home next door.  Not long after, Second Nature Organics was created to breathe new life into the farm.

These days, at ages 91 and 85 respectively, Mike and Betty are still actively involved in the day to day running of the farm.  They are an inspiration to everyone they meet.  

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