In the Queensland outback, 'Fari's Day' means fresh produce
ATHERTON, QUEENSLAND, Australia — Fariborz Rameshfar operates what must be one of the longest fruit and vegetable runs in the world – every two weeks a 2,000-kilometer trek through the outback of Queensland, delivering produce to people with scant access to this type of fresh food.
And he has been doing it for 18 years.
His customers – on cattle stations, in isolated settlements, in small towns – call the day he arrives "Fari's Day."
His 13-ton, refrigerated truck carries up to eight tons of cargo – fresh lettuce, potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, onions, and apples, along with milk, cheese, bread, processed meat, and newspapers. He'll also transport special orders for people who ask.
Mr. Rameshfar, 57, has made a decent living from the business but says he probably could do equally well if he stayed home near Atherton and did his work there.
The fact is, he likes providing a unique service.
"What inspires me to keep on doing this job is my faith as a Baha'i," he said. "I want to be of service ... and this way I can serve by bringing fruit and vegetables to where they are desperately needed."
Four decades earlier, a similar kind of motivation had spurred him to leave his native Iran and head to Africa to help with Baha'i projects. When it proved impossible to get into university there, he came to Melbourne, on the southern coast of Australia. That was in 1973.
He met his wife, Ivy, in Melbourne and in 1983, shortly after their marriage, they decided to move to north Queensland, giving up a comfortable lifestyle near family and friends to help in the development of Baha'i community in the Atherton Tablelands. There they have raised their daughters, Saphira and Nikka.
Atherton is in a tropical area of Australia, on a mountainous plain that offers extremely fertile land for farming – thus the idea for a business built around fresh produce.
His run takes him south and west, down off the Tablelands to the normally dry outback, although recent heavy rains have broken a decade-long drought, with overflowing creeks causing him unusual delays.
He says the traveling has brought many rewards, including seeing nature at its finest.
"There are kangaroos and emus and seasonal birds, especially the thousands of budgerigars who sit on the power lines making the whole thing green," he said. "The wildflowers are amazing, too."
But the best thing is the friendships.
"I know everybody and everybody knows me," he says.
(Article and photographs provided by the Australian Baha'i News Service.)