When my family moved to Cygnet, Tasmania five years ago, we had a dream about growing organic vegetables for the local community.

We wanted to earn our keep from an activity that was environmentally positive, that improved rather than denuded the soil, that fostered connection in the community, that reduced food miles, and that was good for us and our kids.

With soil and water aplenty on our new sloping block, we settled in and started turning over the soil with a mattock and a spade.
Our decision was rather more to do with the heart than the head, as we soon discovered. Turning sod to garden by hand is an arduous process, and one must sell many bunches of carrots to register the car.

Pushing on through the obstacles, I began to read gardening books obsessively, and as I learnt the garden changed and grew to be more manageable, more productive and more rational in layout and planning. And many lessons I learnt the hard way.

And every Sunday I pack the car full of fresh seasonal produce and head down to town to set up the marquee and load the tables and wait for people to come and buy my vegetables. And they do!

Every week people come, in the summer sun when I’m selling up to 20 different crops per week, but also in the winter drizzle, when I’m down to spinach, turnips, leeks and salad.

By now I’ve known these people for years, and we chat about local news, catch up on families and pets, and talk politics and art and gardening. And every week or two a new family pops up, keen to meet local people and to buy local food. And these beautiful people buy my vegetables, which are more expensive that at the supermarket, but they’re also so fresh, so tasty and so organic, and have travelled only three kilometres down the hill.

So five years on, Golden Valley Farm is providing me with a modest income, but every year is better. More importantly, my farm provides me with a deep sense of personal satisfaction and a strong and meaningful connection to my community.

And this year I am expanding again, this time off my farm, by leasing land from a friend. The land is flat, and I will start the process with a tractor instead of a mattock and spade!