When Gregory Sobczak purchased a local lime farm he had two things in mind – it would be a place where he could work freely in his wheelchair and a foundation for his growing family's future.
Greg and his wife Vanessa recently bought the property near Moore Park Beach and, with help from daughter Kiandra and son-in-law Nick, the family is taking on 743 Tahitian lime trees as part of their business Evergreen Limes.
“Evergreen Limes started as a way for me to have a job but also as a place for my daughter and son in law to live, giving them financial security and somewhere for their new baby girl – our first grandchild – to grow up,” he said.
“This is a long venture, it is not a short term thing. This is forever, for our family.”
The property is a place where Greg can get involved in every aspect of work, which he said was a breath of fresh air after constantly being knocked back for employment because of his disability.
“Trying to find work for a 50 year old man in a wheelchair, you might as well paint yourself in invisible paint,” he said.
“All people see is the wheelchair so I thought, well maybe it is time to show people what someone in a wheelchair can do.
“I climb eight foot ladders, I sit on the top rung, I do all sort of things – just the other day I was up in a tree to pick the best limes at the top.”
Greg lost both his legs in a mining accident in 1999.
“I was working in an underground coal mine and I hopped inside one of the machines to fix it,” he said.
“Another bloke went to turn the machine off but hit the wrong switch.
“I walked in at 6 foot 1 and got carried out at 4 foot 7- I lost both my legs.”
While Greg said he had adapted to using a wheelchair and prosthetic legs over the years, his ability to work and his zest for life had not changed.
He said Evergreen Limes was giving him a new purpose and a way to show his working capabilities through fresh produce that he was passionate about.
“Limes are healthy, they are a natural antioxidant and antibacterial,” he said.
“They can be used in cleaning products, they are good for you.
“I always say to people, ‘eat a lime a day'.”
Evergreen Limes currently ships fruit locally and to Brisbane, with more plans in the works to create other products from the farm.
“My daughter is looking at ways to use our limes in other products so we can make the most out of each and every piece of fruit,” Greg said.
“We also have a great website which features plenty of recipes my daughter makes from our limes.”
Greg said Evergreen Limes was a new, exciting venture for him and his family and something they were all passionate about.
“This started out for my own employment but has grown to be so much more,” he said.
“I couldn't do this without the family involved.
“That was the big part of the reason for buying the property, because we can do it together and we can keep a close bond.”
View the Evergreen Limes website here.