Pam, Tyler and Hannah, the Mawdsley family of Finmaw Farm have been with the Collective since Day Dot. Day. Dot. The Mawdlseys have been through every stage, every iteration of the Collective’s journey and processes and every crazy change of plans.
It really doesn’t feel like a quorum unless they’re there.
I distinctly remember the first vegie box which they handed over to a customer – it felt like an immense occasion – small-scale, locally-grown, organic veg, was still rare as hen’s teeth back in 2017 in these hills.
The Mawdsleys are “doers”; they aid our packing team, our delivery team, our Collective community.
Tell me about how you got into farming. How long have you been farming?
We lived in suburbia and were lucky to have a big backyard …planted a few fruit trees, had some chooks, grew some of our veggies and then got bees. More space was needed! So in 2006 we bought our farm land in South Gippsland and began farming cattle and sheep. And as we never liked the use of chemicals we also began the conversion of our farm into certified organic. In 2015 we expanded our home veggie garden and began selling any extra veg as we needed to increase our income. This grew into joining the Collective and the small market garden we have today.
What did you do before you were a farmer?
I was a teacher ….then an at-home mum …..then an as a home educator.
Hannah and Tyler (in fact all my children) were home educated, followed their passions and are widely read in their own fields.
We all loved the farm so began the farming journey together when Tyler and Hannah were very young.
When was your a-ha moment, for wanting to farm?
I’ve always loved the farm life but grew up in the suburbs. When I was 12 years old I came down to South Gippsland with my Nana to stay at a relative’s dairy farm in Koonwarra. I had a wonderful time and think this is when my passion for farming began.
Both Tyler and Hannah have lived on the farm most of their lives and love the lifestyle…their passion developed from there.
What makes your product different, from say, a supermarket product?
We grow everything we sell. Our veggies are nurtured from seed until picked fresh and delivered. Our soils and the health of our land and animals is extremely important and as such our farm is NASAA certified organic …there are no nasties used on our farm, plants or animals. So we only grow and sell the healthiest of food and it tastes really good too!
Farming influences? Who’s your farming hero?
J M Fortier, Pat Coleby
What’s a standard day on the farm for you?
One of the interesting things about farming is that there’s never a ‘standard’ day! The seasons and the weather control so much. You can plan…but most days your plan change.
Sure there’s checking, moving and feeding animals, weeding, planting, watering, picking, packing, delivering and the admin work….
But there’s the neighbours cows on the road, a cow needing assistance with birthing, a tree fallen on fencing, a ewe needing help feeding her lambs, an unexpected vet visit, maintenance and repairs. The list of ‘unexpecteds’ is endless. Some days are long and go well into the evening. Some days there is so much mud, it’s cold, it’s wet or it’s 40 degrees with wild northerly winds!! …but then there’s the birds waking in the morning light, the mist laying between the hills, the frogs croaking at the dam, beautiful sunsets, the dark sky bursting with stars ….farming is a lifestyle.
For people wanting to get into farming, what’s your key advice?
If you wish to farm as a business we would advise doing lots of research first and then find your market. This can be more difficult when you have particular principals and ethics that you won’t compromise. Survival only comes if you can cover your costs and have a small profit margin and this is very difficult to achieve when competing with large scale farms and supermarkets. We are very fortunate that Collective began just at the right time for us.
How did you hear about the Prom Coast Food Collective? Has it helped?
We’ve been in the Prom Coast Food Collective from the very beginning. We read about the initial meeting and went along. We loved that it was a community of like mined people and that as farmers we could sell directly to our customers.
If you could impart one piece of knowledge to your customer base, about cooking with your product, what would it be?
We encourage minimal wastage so using the whole vegetable (always check but with most, all the veg can be used) and recommend looking up recipes that your family would enjoy
…whether it be carrot tops, turnip leaves or silverbeet stalks. Using the whole vegetable helps the shopping $ go further too!
For lamb you can’t go wrong slow cooking roasts and even the cheaper cuts….easy to serve and melts in your mouth.
What’s one thing that we might not know about you, outside of farming?
Pam loves her dogs! Tyler enjoys surfing and skateboarding and Hannah loves healthy cooking
Favourite farming book?
The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for small-scale organic farming by Jean-Martin Fortier