Our families life on the homestead was recently published by ‘Humans Who Grow Food’ and I thought it was a great introduction to why we moved from the city to the country, our life on the farm and what we do here.
My name is Nathalie, my husband Paul and I are both working on our farm full time whilst homeschooling our three children Israel (9), Jireh (6) and Zara (4).
It wasn’t always this way for us, my husband used to work very long hours 6 days a week whilst completely gutting and renovating our suburban home, I ran a small business from home and the children went to a lovely private school. We gave up this comfortable and average life to move to our farm that we had been dreaming of for over 12 years to live more intentionally, shift away from consumerism, be solely responsible for the food on our table and spend plenty of quality time with our little family. We are spending the next year (3 months completed out of 12) eating only what we grow, forage, barter for or purchase the few things we use with funds we make from selling our excess produce.
I grew up with mum tending to a small veggie patch and I learnt the basics through watching and pottering alongside her. But it wasn’t until our honeymoon 11 years ago where we travelled around Australia for a year and stopped into one of Paul’s old mates farm. He introduced us to heriloom veggies, GMOs and the atrocities of industralised agriculture. It was there and then we decided that once we returned home we would start a large veggie garden.
We live in Western Gippsland, Victoria Australia, a cool climate region with fairly reliable high rainfalls, yet we also face the threat of bushfires each season. We live on 54 beautiful acres of rolling hills between 400-500m above sea level. Our annual market style garden is over 800m2 and our perennial food forest is over 1 acre with another 5 acres slowly being converted.
We grow a huge range of annual veggies and fruit as well as many cool climate and subtropical fruit trees. I’m a sucker for increasing our heirloom and heritage varieties continally adding to my seed and tree collection. This year I have over 15 varieties each of tomatoes, beans and pumpkins growing.
One of my proudest achievements is diverting 3500L of supermarket fruit and veggie waste a week out of landfill and turning it into beautiful compost to build our depleted soil.
We do believe in working with nature and not against her. If something isn’t preforming well we look at the reasons, suitability to our climate, position, and soil health. We believe healthy soils produce healthy plants and we work with the biodiversity this brings, aphids bring lady bugs, that is the circle of life on the patch.
Our biggest hurdle is losing entire crops to the abundance of birds we have living on and around our property. We border hundreds of acres of forest which is home to so many beautiful species of birds. We don’t mind sharing but our feathered friends don’t always understand this concept.
Our biggest reward is a combination of harvesting and eating fresh produce several times a day, watching our children choose fresh produce over processed foods and inspiring others that they too can grow food!
Growing food is a habit and habits take commitment and practice. Commit to spending 30 minutes a day out in your patch for a month and see the change that occurs during this time.