We always said we would only work with people on the Collective who are farming organically, are actively collaborative, and lovely; it was our little rule of thumb when bringing on a new producer.
Emma and Mikey tick those boxes and then some; they “get it”. They understand the juggle of farming and parenting, they know the importance of sharing their journey-story with others, they know how to grow enormous eggplants!
When Mikey joined our 2017 Producer Information night which started the Collective (that’s fancy-sounding for “Quick, gather every organic farmer you like in a room and pitch them a crazy idea”), we were hopeful of landing this clever couple. Patience pays off.
Tell me about how you got into farming. How long have you been farming?
Our farming journey started in 2015, Mikey’s parents acquired an eleven acre farm-let in Cape Paterson that had a highly productive 35 year old plum and apple orchard.
We sold the plums and apples along with our vegetables and eggs via a rustic roadside stall which featured an honesty box attached to a tree. The roadside stall was the beginning of our market garden dream, we saw the potential the farm had to offer and fell further in love with growing things!
What did you do before you were a farmer?
Mikey is a foodie obsessed Chef and Emma did a variety of jobs working alongside town planners in the city and locally in Bass Coast.
When was your a-ha moment, for wanting to farm?
We were amazed at the support our tiny roadside stall received and saw that there was very few local growers in the area. Bass Coast seemed to be crying out for organically grown local produce.
What makes your product different, from say, a supermarket product?
The flavour! Our carrots taste like carrots should taste, our tomatoes are vine-ripened and are picked at peak ripeness. We love the farm to table business model, minimal food miles and storage times and ultimate freshness!
Farming influences? Who’s your farming hero?
Our Mothers. Jill and Yiannoulla are both green thumbs who have grown food their whole lives. Both sets of our parents and grandparents have passed on their passion for gardening and food. We were taught from a young age the importance of growing food and nurturing the natural environment.
As for professional farmers, Conor Crickmore of Neversink Farm has always impressed us with his high production, no till, incredibly organised and beautiful small scale farm.
What’s a standard day on the farm for you?
Get up early and wander the greenhouses, get excited about plant growth and worry about pests.
Harvest for our farm gate shop and/or Prom Coast veggie boxes.
Wrangle the children and attempt to help them with home schooling.
If Em is serving customers in the shop Mikey is either harvesting, cultivating or planting.
We usually end our day talking to our guinea pigs and lambs and planning tomorrow’s jobs.
For people wanting to get into farming, what’s your key advice?
Be passionate. Be ready and able to do long hours. Know your soil and the lay of the land.
How did you hear about the Prom Coast Food Collective? Has it helped?
Mikey sat in on the first meeting of Prom Coast back in it’s infancy in 2017. It just took us until 2020 to have our farm’s infrastructure built and organised which enabled us to grow for both our farm-gate shop and the Prom Coast Food Collective. Being on the collective has connected us with other like-minded local producers which has created a community to share our farming stories and gather knowledge. Prom Coast has been fantastic in expanding our customer base beyond our little hamlet of coastal towns which has enabled us to scale up on the farm.
If you could impart one piece of knowledge to your customer base, about cooking with your product, what would it be?
Keep it simple and let the vegetables speak for themselves!
What’s one thing that we might not know about you, outside of farming?
If Mikey’s not on the farm you’ll find him in the surf. Em loves all plants and flowers and if she had more free time she would be creating botanical art.
Favourite farming book?