Farmer Doug fights for his rich, red dirt
DOUG Paddon knows a thing or two about farming, particularly on the rich, red soil of Cudgen.
He is the patriarch of the Paddon family, the head of the Tweed Sweet Potato Association and the father of James, who, along with wife Hayley, are doing whatever they can to have the site of the proposed new Tweed Valley Hospital changed.
Addressing the crowd at Tuesday's protest meeting, Mr Paddon - after whom Tweed Coast Rd's famed "Doug's Cow" produce cart is named - explained the significance of the Cudgen Plateau.
"I have farmed under Mt Warning, I've farmed at Dungay, at Eviron and even down at Tweed Heads ... I have farmed well over half the paddocks at Cudgen, so I think I know a little bit about farming," he said.
"When you go up in a helicopter and take a photo of the Tweed Valley, there is only 2 per cent that has volcanic red soil."
Mr Paddon said Cudgen was ideal not only because of the soil but the fact it enjoyed less rain than further west in the Tweed Valley and less frost.
"So you come back to Cudgen and you say this is only 2 per cent of the valley - this is why I am so passionate about this," he said.
"They say it's only 23ha they want to take off us but they will take more, because they'll stop people farming next to it.
"It will become impossible to farm next to a hospital. Hospitals and farmers don't mix."
Mr Paddon said he feared the hospital would open the door to developers.
"If we can stop the hospital on the red dirt ... the developers won't be sniffing around and will leave farmers and their families in peace," he said.