PLATE TO PADDOCK: Jacinta, Gavin and Ava Jowlettt at their farm, Springhaven Meadows.
PLATE TO PADDOCK: Jacinta, Gavin and Ava Jowlettt at their farm, Springhaven Meadows. Eliza Goetze

The story behind Bundy’s own banana flour

"IN TWELVE years we've suffered nearly ever natural disaster you can imagine," Jacinta Jowett said.

Since the banana farming family moved from Murwillimbah to the Bundaberg region, there has been drought, three floods, low water allocations, two cyclones; "the list goes on".

In the wake of the 2013 floods - when the valley in front of their Givelda banana farm, Springhaven Meadows, was "like Sydney Harbour" - like many farmers, Jacinta and her husband Gavin were coming to terms with their isolation and the damage to their crop.

On top of it all, Jacinta was recovering from post-natal depression.

"For us - and this is where I get teary," she said, "It was a forced blessing, to take stock of where we were heading.

"When you have lots of ideas and passion, you're never quite sure about where to take that forward."

Eighty per cent of the bananas were gone, and as they were cut off from the outside world for three weeks, they had little chance to salvage what was left. Instead, they got brainstorming.

"For us, as big thinkers, it's about having scenarios A, B, C, D to Z.

"In those three weeks, we had a number of ideas which we wanted to pursue."

Banana flour was one of those.

Turning the sweet yellow fruit into flour is common in developing countries, often used as a substitute for milk formula.

 

"It is high in natural fibre and resistant starch, which helps support good bacteria in the gut," Jacinta explained to a crowd of foodies as part of the Plate to Paddock event organised by Bundaberg health food cafe, Nourish.

"We were looking for something that was shelf-stable, versatile, and added value to what we were doing," Jacinta said.

"We see ourselves as in the health industry, so it had to align with that."

In those three weeks when the Jowetts were cut off by the floods, instead of admitting defeat, they set about trialling banana flour production.

They now run what they describe as a "microscale" business, preparing the flour in their own home kitchen as well as supplying markets and businesses with fresh and frozen packs of banana.

Their task now is to educate consumers on its benefits.

It can be used to make everything from pancakes and pizza to gravy and as a fibre boost in smoothies.

The high starch also means a low GI level, which helps to stabilise blood sugar levels, and it is gluten free.

Nourish founder Judy Plath demonstrated the versatility of banana flour in a cooking class for around thirty people at the Givelda State School, just behind the Springhaven plantation.

Through it all the Jowetts have encouraged each other.

"It's the children that give you the hope and the will to keep persevering," Jacinta said.

"What I love most about my husband is his perseverance - he is the ever-optimist."



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