My journey to farming continues…

Hello again fruit growing enthusiasts,

Spring is in full swing on the farm and everything is growing and changing. It’s wonderful to watch the trees that have been dormant go through all the phases of growth from blossom to fruit and bright new leaves. This is especially evident in the nursery where the new fruit trees are being grown. I have been working with Merv, Katie’s dad, learning all aspects of nursery work including growing rootstock from seed, cuttings and how to graft. This has been such a valuable skill set to develop and I have enjoyed every step of the process.


photo 5-600x448
One of my jobs was to graft some apples onto the rootstock where the buds had failed to grow. This was my first solo grafting job and I was a little nervous about how my skills would hold up. Well this week Merv cut away the tape from graft union, to allow it to grow without restriction no that it’s had time to heal, and 100% of the grafts I did succeeded. So that’s really exciting! It has given me the confidence to include growing fruit trees as part of my future business. I’m sure I won’t always have a 100% success rate but I know I have the skills to give it a red hot go.photo-600x448

photo 4-600x448

So the other thing that has been growing and changing on the farm are my ideas about my future farming enterprise. Katie has been wonderful at encouraging me to take it seriously and showing me various resources to make this happen. A really important part of this process is to develop a business plan that makes you define exactly what is it you want to do and when. It’s a bit of a daunting task in some ways to really sit down and commit on paper to the process of how you hope to create a business. But what a wonderful tool. I’m learning that the clearer ones’ vision is about the future and business the more likely it is to come to fruition. So this weekend I’ll be working away on my business plan, which might change as I actually start to put it into practice, however it creates a framework from which to begin. I never thought I’d be looking forward to writing a business plan but in the theme of growth and change I’m embracing this new phase of my life and can’t wait to see how it turns out. Watch this space!

photo 3-600x448

Happy growing all,

Victoria Meyer

Hum Along Farm.

Banishing “busy”

“How are you going? Keeping busy?”

Katie eating apricot-400x224

Have you been greeted like that lately? Or when someone has asked how you are, answered “busy!”?  I realised recently that “busy” has become my stock answer, and I started wondering why – and why it felt like some sort of badge of honour!

My theory is that “busy” is a code word that l (and lots of other people) use when what we really mean is overworked, stressed, under-supported, tired, financially burdened, worried, over-committed, important, in demand, or worthy of your sympathy! For me, busy had become my not-so-subtle way of saying to people (a) look how popular and ‘in demand’ I am; (b) isn’t the life of a farmer hard; (c) don’t expect me to take on anything else; and (d) look at me, I’m superwoman! None of which is actually true.

Just like everyone else, I get my allotted 24 hours in every day and, just like everyone else, each day I chose how I spend those hours! For those of us juggling kids, work (maybe multiple jobs), community responsibilities, and family, it often doesn’t feel like we have a lot of choice. But, when I had a look at how I was actually spending my hours, it turns out that a lot of them were being used up doing things that are nothing to do with being in demand, a farmer, or superwoman, but much more to do with allowing other people’s agendas to sidetrack me because I don’t have a clear plan for how I want to spend my time, not being very good at saying ‘no’, and enjoying the recognition I get from being involved (read “over-committed”) in community organisations.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the things that take my time – in the great majority of cases, I do, but I’ve really been asking myself, why on earth do I consistently over-commit to the point of becoming too busy?

In a way this whole process of becoming more conscious of how I spend my time has been another unexpected benefit of winning the RIRDC Victorian Rural Women’s Award, because the award has given me a lot of opportunities to travel, speak in front of groups, and try new things. And you may remember when I won the award I made a commitment to say ‘yes’ to as many opportunities as I could during this year, because I figure it’s a chance that may not come again, and I want to learn as much as possible. The result is that I’ve found my days and weeks filling up with commitments I don’t normally have. But you know the interesting thing? I’m only as ‘busy’ as I’ve ever been.

The inescapable truth is that I manage to create exactly the same level of busy-ness, no matter what my actual obligations are. Eek! That must mean it’s me! Unless someone’s actually holding a gun (or a metaphorical gun) to our head, we all have a choice about we spend our time. And when I look around me, I notice that some people are not always busy, but are calm, productive and relaxed. So what are they doing with their 24 hours, I wondered, that I’m not?

When I know the answer to that question I’ll let you know, because I’m determined to find out, and the first step is not using the word ‘busy’ any more. And I admit, it’s often hard to find another word to tell people how I am, rather than what I’m doing, but I’ll keep practising.

So how am I? Thanks for asking, right now I’m happy, curious about life, and aware I have a self-imposed deadline to write our Weekly Fruit Tips newsletter looming, so I’m off to do that next!

Katie-and-poppy


RIRDC Victorian Rural Women’s Award – week 31

In the last few weeks I’ve:

  • Spoken at the “Local Lives, Global Matters” conference in Castlemaine
  • Been interviewed for  The Weekly Times
  • Been interviewed for a feature article in the Victorian Farmers Federation magazine
  • Agreed to speak at the “Chicks in the Sticks” event
  • Submitted a workshop proposal for an event in South Australia
  • arranged to meet with my project mentor
  • Been working on ideas for Stage 2 of the project

My project, called “Growing Communities Around Farmers Markets” has been made possible by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Awards. Nominations for the 2016 Awards are now open.

A magic moment…

Before Sas and I even had a piece of land we had a big dreaming session about what was important to us both on and in the piece we knew would eventually arise. We included short- and long-term visions on our big piece of butcher’s paper and felt funny but free dreaming big!  We thought that by putting it ‘out there’ into the world, so to speak, we were giving it all more of a chance to happen, rather than keeping it so close to home we were even afraid to speak it!

IMG_20151015_122020

One of Sas’s dreams of the space yet to be created was that it could be used as an educational space, a living, breathing, successful example of small productive agriculture using organic and biodynamic ways and using the moon as our guide for when to seed, plant, toil and harvest.

For some reason this had escaped my memory when Sas told me there was to be a biodynamic compost making, moon planting and crop rotation workshop at the patch. I was keen of course, as Janet, who runs the Newstead community garden, was the teacher for the day and she is a deep well of knowledge and experience and action!  I was running late on the odd new public holiday with the electric kettle and arrived just in time to sit down for the first session.

IMG_20151015_122100

It didn’t hit me how special this day actually was until I looked around at the circle of us eating up Janet’s words, under a tree with the patch in the background…I am proud to say that tears quietly rolled down my cheeks. This was happening and it was one of Sas’s dreams becoming reality.

IMG_20151015_122157

Another awesome moment for me that day (its hard to pick though, we all learnt heaps!) was seeing all the food scraps saved from the Tim Flannery event being used back on our patch… Some of our greens surely would have been in that mix! And also knowing that our rich ingredients had been sourced locally… We used biodynamic spelt husks and sheep poo generously donated by Jenny and Andrew at powlett hill, and collected by Sas and me. So, a complete full circle – from beginning to end. Awesome.

IMG_20151015_122333

Now it is heating up (the compost and the weather!) and Sas is harvesting kilos of salad mix, fennel, radishes, chard, broadbeans and (soon) peas!  The sweetpeas are in full bloom and fragrancing the air…ahhh the abundance of spring!

We hope this finds you enjoying the warm air and new season!

Sas & Mel