“Build it and they will come” has always been the motto behind the scenes on the Collective.
When we started the Collective there was one small-scale organic marker vegetable grower, just starting up in our area; that was the awesome Finmaw Farm. Now, on social media (because how else do you keep abreast during covid-19 lockdowns of what’s happen in your world), we see new logos emerging, plots being plotted, intentions being said out loud. Small-scale organic and regen-ag growers are moving in!
We knew that they would. We just didn’t know when.
So we welcome Kim and Jay. The next generation of organic vegetable growers. We’ve been waiting for you.
Tell me about how you got into farming. How long have you been farming?
We have been farming under our own business for only a year now, we had our first farmers market in November 2020.
What did you do before you were a farmer?
Besides some hospitality work we both did seasonal work for about 2.5 years around Australia and spent 3 years on a flower farm in the north west of Tasmania. Both experiences were so different from each other but have taught us so much and gave us the right inspiration with some of the produce we’re growing today.
When was you’re a-ha moment, for wanting to farm?
Jay has been wanting to farm since he was 15 (but didn’t know at the time what that would look like and let that idea slip to the back of his mind, where it always lingered) and I have always just wanted to better the world but never knew where my calling was. During the midst of the pandemic Jay’s work situation changed (he was working on a regenerative organic farm on the Mornington Peninsula) and we felt that we got all the signs, knew the right people and just had to jump in. We permanently moved from the peninsula to Jay’s family property in South Gippsland and started off.
What makes your product different, from say, a supermarket product?
Besides the fact that we grow in an organic way so don’t use any harmful sprays, we know the product from front to back and know how to grow it to its full potential. We’ve sown the seeds in the nursery, nurtured the plants before they go into the soil outside, know how long they took to reach maturity and harvested the produce at the right time with our own hands. You barely see that connection in any produce you find in the supermarket. We also use regenerative practices on our farm so we always try to optimise the soil, care for the land and work with nature instead of trying to influence her for our own good.
Farming influences? Who’s your farming hero?
When you’re in the small scale and regenerative space you can’t go past amazing and well known people like Elliot Coleman, JM Fortier and for flowers Erin Benzakein (also known as Floret) but our heroes are really the other farmers out there that are getting up every day in every type of weather and try their hardest to produce beautiful food and care for the land. They usually don’t get put on a pedestal but they absolutely deserve it; the farming community is an amazing space.
What’s a standard day on the farm for you?
Depending on what season we’re in, it can range from prepping beds, transplanting, raising seeds, picking flowers, packing orders or just a good old day of weeding (because no small scale farmer can’t deny there’s plenty of them too, you just don’t see them that often on Instagram).
For people wanting to get into farming, what’s your key advice?
Dive in, maybe do some volunteering, find yourself a community which can inspire / help you and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You’ll make plenty but that’s the only way to learn.
How did you hear about the Prom Coast Food Collective? Has it helped?
I think we first saw Prom Coast pop up through Instagram, and then a farmer friend told us to get onto it. We have only just joined but the Collective is an amazing place of so many inspiring and hard working people coming together, we can’t wait to see what the future brings.
If you could impart one piece of knowledge to your customer base, about cooking with your product, what would it be?
Try different things with your cooking or produce you might have never eaten before. Last season kohlrabi was our star of the show, with a lot of people not knowing how to cook with it. Seeing them come back a month later to a farmers’ market with a big smile on their face and recipe tips is just so rewarding and satisfying.
What’s one thing that we might not know about you, outside of farming?
Kim is originally from The Netherlands and spends her spare time learning about anything alternative health (yoga / meditation, ayurveda, nutrition). Jay absolutely loves the outdoors and is doing his diploma in Conservation and Ecosystem Management as we speak.
Favourite farming book?
The Wooleen Way by David Pollock.
Favourite non-farming book?
The Overstory by Richard Powers and anything Michael Pollen.