Drought Conditions on Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island is suffering from drought. Rainfall in 2018 was 500mm (20 inches) below the longterm average.

The Island has been hit hard this summer. In December we had only 8mm of rain, compared to the long-term average of 100mm, and 117mm in the previous December. There has been no rain at all so far in January and there is no sign of rain in coming weeks.

The Island does not have mains water. Thornleigh Farm, like many others, relies on rainwater. We have a significant investment in catchment, storage and drip irrigation facilitiesto collect and conserve water. Our water reserves have lasted all through December, but with no sign of an end to the drought we have decided to conserve our remaining supply and move the farm to care and maintenance. This means that we will not be able to supply our normal range of fresh produce.

Thank you for your support and understanding. We look forward to getting back to normal after good rains come.

Why don’t we use bore water?

Bore water is used on the Island but the water must be sterilised and desalinated for human use and irrigation. We have a lovely old well on the property. We can sterilise the water with in-line ultraviolet filtration, but we do not favour desalination because it requires large amounts of power and produces toxic waste as a by-product which is poisonous to land and marine life.

Opening Hours Summer 2018

Thornleigh Farm has new opening hours! These are the hours during which we are open for order pickup, and walk-in sales.

Monday: 8am – 9am
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 3.30pm – 4.30pm
Thursday: 8am – 9am
Friday: 8am – 9am
Saturday: 3.30pm – 4.30pm
Sunday: Closed

In setting our new opening hours, we have attempted to balance several competing pressures:

  • Some potential customers have told us that they cannot pick up orders during our current 8am – 9am hours. For example, because they have work each morning.
  • Other customers have indicated that they are happy with our existing hours
  • We need to maintain limited opening hours, because we don’t have the resources to staff a regular retail storefront. Farming is very intense work, requiring our full attention for the majority of each day.

We hope these new hours are a good compromise. Our online store remains open 24 hours, 7 days a week. You can visit https://thornleighfarm.com/store to browse and order fresh food at any time.

Gardens in Spring

Winter has truly given way. Chilling mornings are gone, and steady 21 degree days are in. The gardens are feasting on the increased sunlight.

Hoop houses shielding capsicum

Water remains an ongoing challenge. In the absence of drought, Lord Howe Island rainfall does not vary significantly between winter and summer. However, demand from the gardens increases substantially.

Lettuce rows

We face this coming summer with a vastly increased catchment area and storage capacity. We are hopeful that we will be able to maintain garden irrigation through the heat.

Tomato vines in the nursery

The gardens and nursery are currently growing 27 different products, including pumpkins, rhubarb, tomatoes, lettuce, and capsicum.

Looking down from above onto a section of the gardens

Our food is available for order 24/7 at thornleighfarm.com/store