There’s more than a smidge of the environmentalist in Killarney potato farmer Mal Smith. Perhaps it’s his genetic makeup.
Mal grows chemical-free Sebago, Kipfler and Pinkeye potatoes on his 230-hectare farm near Queen Mary Falls, in Killarney, known for its rich red volcanic soil.
His father Sam moved to the district in the 1930s when the region was felled for timber. The native hoop pine and cedar were popular with furniture makers.
Mal recounts how his father would tell the timber getters not to fell the large trees on his property. When asked why, Sam said, “someone might want to look at them one day”. And indeed they do.
Sam, aged 94 years, still wields the hoe on the property’s expansive vegetable garden each day and sees Killarney’s future in tourism.
His son Mal agrees. His father’s guardianship of the big trees has retained a 300-acre patch of virgin rainforest on their property that is a drawcard for both scientists and bushwalkers.
Mal is also a great supporter of the Killarney picnic basket day where his iconic loaded potatoes are a feature of visitor’s picnic spreads.