It's one of the most significant vegetable cropping businesses in the Charters Towers region and the future is looking bright for the Caleo family after losing the majority of their crops in the 2019 flooding event.
Three years on from the devastating weather event that cost them at least 200 acres of watermelons alone, Jon Caleo from Black River Produce said life looked a little different.
"I can probably say for the first time in years, I sleep a full night," he said.
"My wife is a lot more relaxed - it's a lot of pressure on the whole family when things aren't relaxed. The farming business is going well."
Mr Caleo accessed a North Queensland Restocking, Replanting and On-Farm Infrastructure co-contribution grant through QRIDA to replant his crops, replace damaged infrastructure and rebuild roads on the property.
The operation, which employs 15 people, is now 95 to 100 per cent recovered from the disaster.
"The farm wouldn't be up and running, the farm wouldn't be employing the people, earning the money that it is - none of that would have happened without the money from QRIDA," he said.
"Honestly, we would have really struggled without the QRIDA assistance to be back where we are. I don't know where we'd be without it."
Black River Produce includes two farms in North Queensland, 20kms east of Charters Towers on the Burdekin River and a second farm 20km north of Townsville.
What started as a pawpaw, zucchini and capsicum farm exporting to New Zealand has developed over the past three decades now growing watermelons for eight months of the year, pumpkins for 12 months, asparagus for four months, broccoli for four months and some garlic.
"Farming started out as a hobby at Black River and it was a hobby that grew out of control," Mr Caleo said.
"These new crops came about because the farm was quarantined with cucumber green mottle mosaic virus, which came in an imported seed in 2015 so we needed to start looking around for other crops that weren't affected by the virus.
"I was interested in asparagus because it had not been grown in Queensland before, not any further north than Mildura and it's something we still don't know will work, it's still an experiment."
The asparagus business is still in its infancy and the family has planted 30 acres, and will plant another 10 acres later this year.
"For four months of the year, all asparagus is imported, but we're trying to prove that it can be grown all year round," Mr Caleo said.
"If we can do that, Australia won't have to import any asparagus. We're working with another grower who is trying to do the same thing and produce asparagus through Australia's winter, so we're growing seedlings for him to plant up there."
Looking to the future, Mr Caleo's son Anthony is looking to take over a third of the farming business.
"The farm is now a very well-established business with all our sales. It's a good business and a business that my son won't need to expand on," he said.
The grants of up to $400,000 are available for primary producers to restock, replant and repair after the 2019 flooding but application are open until June 30.
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