Don and Fiona Firth started raising funds to support research and initiatives for children with cystic fibrosis around five years ago after their grandson was born with the life-threatening condition in 2012.
The Bridge House Nursey owners from Brogo have been dedicating funds raised each year from the sale of mostly deciduous trees, but also fruiting plants and native tube stock to fund research into the rare genetic disorder with no cure.
Cystic fibrosis is caused by a malfunction in the exocrine system that's responsible for producing saliva, sweat, tears and mucus. It mostly affects the lungs and digestive system but can also impact also the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and intestines.
The current life expectancy for someone born with the disorder is 47 years of age, but when their grandson Sebastian was born, the life expectancy was about 37.
It was a terrible thought for the grandparents who were in their 60s at the time of his birth and faced the possibility they could outlive their grandchild.
The couple's grandson has suffered from symptoms such as coughing, breathlessness, and has to take an enzyme to digest his food properly. He also has an array of specialists working to assist his parents in creating a routine to keep him healthy.
Sufferers of CF are also highly susceptible to lung disease and many children will need lung transplants by the time they're in their 20s.
Despite semi-retiring from the nursey around five years ago, Mr Firth was still hooked on growing trees and decided he would put the profits raised from selling a few more towards research.
The initiative has since raised over $20,000, with $5000 alone being raised from sales over the last year. The funds raised in 2022 would be heading to key body Cystic Fibrosis Australia.
It's not the only way the couple has thought up to raise money.
Before COVID they ran tours of their underground home to local gardening or other interested groups like University of the Third Age.
The couple would put on a morning tea and run a three-hour tour of their unique home that was built into the side of a mountain, topped with tonnes of concrete, and completed with its own fire bunker.
Mr Firth said the tour would cover the ideas such as principles of owner-building, passive solar housing, and the benefits of facing a home north on the NSW Far South Coast.
"Underground housing was thought to be a silly idea 20 years ago but when the fires came through there was not many people disagreeing with us," he said.
Mr Firth also said many of the fundraising sales he had made over the last couple of years were from people impacted by the Black Summer bushfires.
He said there had been some anecdotal evidence and literature that suggested deciduous trees had fire mitigating effects.
He had heard stories of clumps of deciduous trees diverting the wind so that a fire would go around an area instead of coming head on as well as dampening effects, and shielding properties from direct heat exposure.
Mr and Ms Firth wanted the take home message of their story to be that people needed to be aware of the possibility of being carriers of CF. Genetic testing before pregnancy would help people understand if they were carriers of the incurable disease.
They also wanted people to think about the benefits of being an organ donor and to have those difficult conversations with family members before they died.
"Have that discussion, find out what your people want," said Ms Firth.
The grandparents said their grandson was doing well for the time being - thanks to the research conducted over the years into medications and effective daily health regimes in place for the young boy.
"Hopefully that will get him through long enough to hopefully find another drug that will work," said Mr Firth.
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