Australian flower grower donates land to food charity

When Les Baguley’s grandkids complained, “you only ever hear about the bad people,” he would reassure them plenty of good ones exist. You just don’t always hear about them. Then, he showed them.

After he had a stroke and decided helping people mattered more than money, flower farmer Les Baguley gave over his valuable, semi-urban farmland to food charity FareShare, which will use the produce in 400,000 meals this year. A second-generation flower grower, Baguley had set out to build on his parents Frank and Isabel’s huge industry legacy and become “the biggest and the best” in Australia’s cut flower market. He worked 100 hours a week with 156 staff but then he had the stroke that transformed what he thought he wanted in life.

Paralyzed down one side, he started growing vegetables for rehabilitation, and, according to long-time friend Joan Datson, “being Les, he couldn’t just put in a few plants. It had to be a whole row.”  
As he healed, his vegetables did so well they “got a little bit out of control,” so, through a friend, Baguley says he began connecting with and donating to welfare agencies and giving them away.

Once he returned to full health, he felt giving mattered more than maximum wealth and decided to donate his land, his time, and the costs of running his farm to grow food for those in need.

“When you have a life-changing experience like a stroke, your outlook on life changes; you start to think about what really matters in your life,” says Baguley, who realized, “I’m a person who likes to help people.” Baguley farm’s produce means the group, which won a Food for Good award at the recent Good Food Guide Awards, does not have to rely on the “lucky dip of rescue [food]” and can plan menus eight weeks in advance.

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