The Big Issue : Edition 476
THEBIGISSUE23JAN–5FEB2015 27 ONE MORNING OVER breakfast, Ana Paula Estrada’s three-year-old daughter asked her how milk is made. Instead of a basic description, Estrada decided to take her daughter to the source: the farms of The Hinterland in southeast Queensland. But after talking with farmers there, Estrada realised that things in the area weren’t all happy mooing cows and tropical fecundity. “I talked to the farmers and I realised that there was a big problem going on with farming in Australia,” she said. “All these small farms, they are practically closing down. It’s really hard for them to compete with the produce coming from overseas. It’s really badly paid work. They don’t get enough money.” And so what started as an educational day trip turned into an ongoing photographic project for Estrada, called The Hinterland Project. The Sunshine Coast Hinterland is located about 80km north of Brisbane. Although the area is home to stunning scenery, Estrada didn’t focus on the breathtaking views from the Glasshouse Mountains or lush national parks. Her stark photographs are of people, weathered by hard manual work with little reward. “There’s people in their nineties that are still working the land and they’re still trying to do something, to make it better or to keep producing, but they don’t have the support from the government. The big brands like Woolworths and Coles, they have all the market. It’s hard to compete,” says Estrada. Even that iconic symbol of sunny Queensland, the Big Pineapple, is a shadow of its former self. Farmers told Estrada that after the business was bought by an overseas company, the huge swathes of fruit crops were ruined, along with their jobs. The bright yellow pineapple is now just a garish tourist attraction that hosts a farmers’ market on the weekend. Apart from that, there’s nothing there. Estrada said although the farmers continue to work hard, they do it without hope. Parents and grandparents encourage their children to move to Brisbane and find a different career, because they see no future in farming. “I asked the question to all of them: is there any future planting or farming? They all said they consider themselves the last farmers in the area.” Since visiting the area, Estrada and her daughter think a lot about food. Every time they eat something her daughter wants to know what crop it came from, or how it was made. “I realised that when you live in the city, sometimes you don’t think about where food comes from. One of the main goals with the project is to show it in the city, because in the end, we still have the power to change things. The consumers have the power to change things.” by Katherine Smyrk » See more at thehinterlandproject.com.