Dunbible farmers Leonie and Joel Dunne
Dunbible farmers Leonie and Joel Dunne

Farmstay plan short on beds

WANTED: Farmers seeking a new cash cow.

A family farming venture at Cudgen which has grown to meet the needs of overseas students studying agriculture has pioneered an entire new cash flow for the rural sector.

But Helen Stewart of Beachfarm, which is expecting three-score and more students from Japan next month, says the business has run out of farmers wishing to take part.

Mrs Stewart has appealed to local farmers to consider taking in the overseas students for one or more nights, with farmers being paid $50 a night plus petrol money for picking their charges up.

She says the students are becoming big business for the Tweed which, unlike other farming districts, boasts the tourist mecca of the Gold Coast next door to give the visitors a last-day bonus.

Beachfarm expects 65 students from the north of Japan to arrive on the Tweed on the Saturday of the Murwillumbah Show, but only has about 40 farmers on their data base willing to billet them.

The company has been asked to take a further 170 students next May and 160 during the Japanese JulyAugust school holidays.

The students coming for the show weekend are scheduled to stay just two nights, but the school holidays group is tipped to stay up to 10 days.

Mrs Stewart said Beachfarm began taking a few students in 2002, had been asked to take more in 2003 and now the business was surpassing expectations.

"They must think Tweed farms are pretty good," she said.

"A lot of people are dismal about Tweed farms but we are in a pretty good spot for tourists.

"Before they go home they get a day at Seaworld or a day shopping. I don't think there are many other farming areas that could do that."

Mrs Stewart said the students were mostly

either 16-year-olds from high school or 18-year-olds doing their university entrance studies and seriously considering a career in agriculture.

She is seeking farmers with a spare bedroom to play host, but assures them there is no need to cook Asian-style meals.

"Trying Aussie tucker is part of the experience," she said.

Mrs Stewart can be contacted on 02 66741201 or email holiday@beachfarm.com.au

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