Happy hens make a happy Dragan family

Mark Dragan harvests dragonfruit on the farm. Photos: Rob Maccoll

By Margaret Maccoll

Despite being a working farm for more than a century it was a growing interest in locally produced food in just the past few years that made farm gate trade a success and lifted the profile of the region’s family farm.

That Dragonfruit are in season and plentiful on the farm this month seems appropriate for a farm named Dragan but it is not the reason behind the name of the family run farm operated by Alexi Cox and Mark Dragan.

The fifth generation 90-acre farm is located just 10 minutes west of Peregian Beach Village and owned by Alexi’s mum who allows her 40 cattle to roam the property like pets and they in turn keep the grass down.

Alexi and Mark use nine acres of the property to run their free-ranging chickens and grow a range of produce including dragonfruit, watermelon, bananas and lemons.

The low-key operation doesn’t rely on seasonal workers but on family and locals.

Mark does the fruit and veg with family help and neighbour Mike helps out in the paddocks and works with the chickens, Alexi said.

Another local, beekeeper Alan Dellaway identified the farm as an ideal spot for his bee hives and the farm now sells his honey in its store.

Alexi said the farm has about 1000 chickens which are housed in mobile containers from which they roam during the day.

Every two days the chickens mobile homes move on to a fresh paddock to peck and wander.

“They’re pretty happy,“ she said. “They don’t go too far from their homes.“ Alexi said the chickens were protected from predatory wild dogs and dingoes by an electric fence but attacks from above from birds of prey the greatest threat to the fowl.

The family only began selling produce directly from the farm 5-6 years ago when young son Lenny set up a roadside stall selling eggs.

Over the years people have become more interested in knowing where their food comes and having a farm so close to an urban community has become a most welcome asset.

Alexi said the neighbours encouraged Lenny and the shop just took off.

In addition to their own produce Dragan Farm began sourcing local produce to fill demand. “Always organic and local“ was the criteria, Alexi said.

Their farm store now opens three days a week and stocks a range of fruit and vegetables. They have recently expanded further with the installation of refrigeration and stock Eumundi meats and Shore to Shore locally caught wild seafood.

Last September Dragan farm installed a vending machine to dispense eggs, honey and recently dragonfruit seven days a week.

Dragan Farm is on Old Emu Mountain Rd, Peregian Beach.

Your first stop before buying a home. View the whole picture.