With the first anniversary of the last year's fires in the Nambucca Valley fast approaching, we're taking a look at some of the beautiful gestures residents dreamed up to help others in that unforgettable moment that changed lives forever.
This week we spoke to Tom Macindoe on behalf of the North Arm Farms team, that well-known local farming collective that comes to the Bellingen markets every Wednesday and provides a huge range of vegetables for our tables.
"Our farm, Mandarin Bend, is at Girralong, up the top of North Arm so the Kian Rd and Fortescue Creek fires were to the southeast us. For Kaycee and I it was the Andersons Creek fire that was making us anxious because as the crow flies, it was very close," Tom said.
"National Parks and the RFS were up here and it was all flagged as if the valley could go up. Camilla and Bryce (Autarky Farm) are on Bowraville Rd, so they were really worried.
"After the Kian Rd fire hit it just didn't feel right to put out our normal weekly list (the collective fills 70-80 boxes a week throughout the Nambucca Valley) plus we had no idea if any of us would be able to get out!
"So we asked our customers if they wanted to chip in to the fire relief effort - they did, and we raised $4000, which was awesome."
This did however mean there was a lot of unsold produce that needed to be moved:
"So we took it all to the Macksville RSL's kitchen and together with chef Luke Parkes and a whole lot of volunteers, we cooked 1000 beautiful meals for the crews out on the foregrounds and also people at the evacuation centres.
"It was such a positive vibe ... getting together to cook all that good wholesome food and people really appreciated it."
Tom said while half the money raised went to covering costs, the remaining $2000 was donated to Nambucca Valley Landcare to help the rehabilitation process.
"As I understand it, the money has been used to buy 1000 trees for the affected properties ... some are being planted now but the bulk will be planted in autumn.
Who are North Arm Farms:
The collective is two years old and is made up of Tom and his partner Kaycee Simuong at Mandarin Bend, Alex Coulombe and Kerryn Mcfarlane at Harvest Owl with Autarky Farms Bryce King and Camilla Bonnici.
With diversity the key to what customers want, the three couples, who were already friends, decided it made sense to team up and divide the crops between the three farms, all of which are in slightly different geographic and climatic locations.
In this way each farm has been able to continue on a small scale, honing skills for particular crops while the collective output can meet the diverse demands of local restaurants and residents, filling a special niche in the local community.
Ordering is done online from Sunday to Tuesday (www.northarmfarms.com) and Wednesday is drop off. North Arm Farms are also at the weekly farmers market held in Bellingen on Wednesdays.