Once upon a time we were all farmers - well most of us were. As the industrial revolution took hold more and more of us left the the land to become shopkeepers, doctors and digital insights analysts and we finally came to a today where hardly any of us are farmers or even have family on a farm.
Which has created a bit of a conundrum - because if you don't have farmers in your family and you don't know how to farm, how do you become a farmer? The answer seems to be - you don't. Which has resulted in our farmers getting quite old - according to the ABS in 2011, the median age of farmers was 53 years, with almost a quarter of farmers aged 65 years or over.
And with many farmers up to their eyeballs in debt, the supermarket duopoly forever driving down farm gate prices, with climate change induced droughts and floods happening all over the place and just the sheer unrelenting hard work of it all - who would want to be a farmer these days anyway? Well, the answer surprisingly seems to be quite a lot of people actually, including many city folk. Enter the Day's Walk Farm Farmer Incubator program
Earlier this year five young farmer incubatees were introduced to a few of bare rows at Joe's Market Garden (that's a couple of them up there). Over the past 6 months the F.I. crew have been learning what it takes to prepare ground, plant, maintain, harvest and market a garlic crop from start to finish. Farmer incubatee, Emma Doy,explains what they've been doing....
With no previous farming experience we’ve been learning the joys, intricacies and challenges farming brings. We've made connections with inspiring farmers and a supportive community, been discovering more about localised food systems, and perhaps most of all, we’ve grown an even deeper appreciation for all the farmers out there!! It's not an easy gig, but so rewarding and so very important!
We’re growing 4 garlic varieties; White Crookneck, Tassie Purple, Red Rocombole, and Silverskin. The locals have been keenly watching our crop of about 1500 plants since we put the cloves in last April. Now the bulbs are bursting out of ground the little beauties are already in hot demand! We been pulling them to sell as green garlic, which is becoming popular in Australia — as it is in many other parts of the world. It's a little less intense but sweeter than cured garlic and you use it wherever you use regular garlic, leek, or spring onions, and you can eat all of it, including the green bits!
You can meet the incubatees and buy their green garlic for the next few Saturday mornings 9.30-12.at Joe's Market Garden Farm Gate - on the Merri Creek at the end of Edna Grove, Coburg. If there's any left we might have some available for Fair Food customers.
Joe and Vince's broad bean bounty in boxes
I was down at Joe's Market Garden on Friday checking in with CERES farmer, Vince Fittipaldi. Vince lead me around the garden talking irrigation, fencing, telling me what he was thinking of planting through the summer. I followed, listening, looking, skinning and eating a handful of his broad beans. The 120km winds that tore through Melbourne a few weeks back bending the nearby Preston radio tower in half lay Vince's broad bean crop on the ground. But in the tangle of stalks they quietly continued to grow and grow until this weekend when Vince will pick most of them. I asked him how many he was expecting to harvest. He reckoned about a ton.
Of course these are the beans Vince's cousin Joe Garita planted and saved here each season since 1945. They're really big but they still retain their sweetness (one pod recently measured an impressive 380mm) . Vince advises to cook them as fresh as possible and not let them lie around in the crisper.
This week you'll find Joe and Vince's broad beans in many of our set produce boxes as well as in our webshop. And if you're really keen on them you can buy them by the 6kg box straight from Vince down at the garden most mornings. One broad bean afficiando recently bought 9 boxes!
More CERES organic tomato seedlings in stock
So over the weekend we were almost cleaned out of organic tomato seedlings - if you missed out we've restocked the shop.....
This week only Fair Food is delivering a limited number of certified organic tomato seedlings from Meg and the good farmers at CERES Propagation. So if you want to get something for your salad bowl or plant your own crop ready for next year's Crowdsaucing Day they're available for order now and you can find them here
This year's varieties are;
Gross Lisse: The good ol’ reliable. Very vigorous up to 3m. Much loved by backyard gardeners for its high yields of mid to large red fruit. Late season producer. Tasty and versatile.
Roma: Has a bushy habit to 1 metre and mid season egg shaped fruits of 4cm by 6 cm long that are used for bottling and cooking as well as drying.
Siberian: An extra early variety that doesn’t require high temperatures to set fruit. Tasty, red, mid-sized fruit. Bears fruit in clusters, heavy cropper. Compact plant, good for pots. Wind and cold resistant.
Tatura dwarf globe: High yielding compact bush type tomato no more than 1m high. Medium sized red fruit. This was a popular canning/preserving variety once throughout Victoria. Good flavour. Good for pots.
Tigerella: An Iconic heirloom. grows to approx 1.5m and is one of the most prolific of all backyard varieties. Very attractive striped red/orange medium sized fruit. Versatile and tasty!
And if your garden's not quite ready to go you can pick these CERES tommies and a heap more varieties up at CERES Nursery and they're open Cup Day.