No time for blogging - Too much farming to do!!!

Hi All,

Just a quick note to say that I'm going to bite the bullet and admit defeat in the written blog world for the time being!!  I find that I'm so busy on the farm, not only growing, harvesting, weeding, prepping for the summer season, managing my accounts, updating social media, attending industry meetings, speaking at and facilitating functions and trying to squeeze in much needed time with loved ones that I just don't have time in there for a written blog at the moment!  However, you can still keep up to date with everything happening at the Patch including video blogs and photos, by following me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/patchworkfarming) or Instagram where you can find us at patchwork_farm.  

Better get back to it!

Cheers

Jo

It's all happening at the Patch!

Wow I cannot believe I haven't written since September last year!!! Probably gives an indication of how CRAZY these last few months have been! I started planting in the beginning of December and now in mid February we are just beginning to harvest here at the Patch. Sometimes it seems like time is crawling by with my vegetables and then sometimes I absolutlely cannot keep up!

 

I've gone from this...

To this – an absolute sea of pumpkins!

A lot of people I talk to don't know what goes into producing veggies and always ask what my secret is. Really there's no secret, it's just a lot of work! But I tell you what, even though my days are full of weeding, watering, fertilising, trellising, soil prep, mowing, ordering, picking, packing, weeding again, accounts work, facebooking and instagramming, planning, scheduling, more paperwork, and more paperwork again, and I fall into bed absolutely out for the count every night, I hand on heart would not want to be doing anything else! It's my little Patch and I'm so proud of it!

 

Ag Adventures!

I was going through some of our travel photos last night from our trip to the UK earlier this year and stumbled upon this one. Just a reminder of how much of a farming nerd I am! John and I had decided to go for a lovely stroll on a clear but chilly UK day in Godalming in Surrey and I couldn't contain my excitement (you can tell by my accidental winking!) when we stumbled upon these gorgeous Highland cows! I love having a look at farms when I travel, seeing what different breeds, varieites, practices are happening. From highland cows in Surrey, sugar cane in Queensland, to Farmers' Markets in Amsterdam, cauliflowers in Bristol, asparagus in Albany,and greenhouse tomatoes in Devon. Wherever I go in the world, I can't help but excited by Ag – I must be an exhausting travel partner!!

Cauliflowers in Bristol - I get so excited and inspired when I come across new varieties 

Cauliflowers in Bristol - I get so excited and inspired when I come across new varieties 

Farmers' Market in Amsterdam - such wonderful, fresh produce!

Farmers' Market in Amsterdam - such wonderful, fresh produce!

Beltex sheep in Devon - such a compact and sturdy little breed

Beltex sheep in Devon - such a compact and sturdy little breed

Sugar cane plantation in Queensland - the scale of these operations is amazing

Sugar cane plantation in Queensland - the scale of these operations is amazing

Season planning

So I'm at the planning stage for the summer season here at Patchwork Farm and wow what an absolute MOUNTAIN of work I've got to do! This time of year it almost seems impossible that in only 5 short months I'll be beginning to harvest my beautiful fresh vegetables. I've just placed my seed order for the season and I must admit I do like researching the different varities I will try for the season. Of course there are the tried and true, my staple crop of Gourmet No 1 Tomatoes for example and blocky red capsicums, and a range of beans, beetroot, chillies, cucumbers, squash amongst others - but I'm particularly excited this year for a couple of reasons. Because I'm a self confessed tomato nerd, I cannot WAIT to see the 8 different varieties of heritage tomatoes I'll be putting in. I've found people for some reason get really excited about my heritage tomatoes and I think it comes down to the fact they pack a hell of a flavour punch! From the cute little Yellow Pear on the truss to the absolute monster of the Mortgage Lifter (I've got my fingers crossed this variety will live true to it's name for me this year!) the variety, the differences, the lumps and bumps, the colour and of course the wonderful electric taste of these toms combine to make them a pretty special experience. Bring on the summer, I'm excited!

From this...

From this...

To this!

To this!

Patchwork Farm's new additions

The new members of the Patchwork Farm family have definitely settled in nicely! The Angus x Friesian steers are about 8 months old now, as cheeky as anything and expert escape artists (not for a while though fingers crossed!!) I haven't worked with calves before and I've really been enjoying the learning curve and seeing some great growth rate results with them. They were absolutely loving the spring sunshine last week that's for sure!

Happy in the sunshine!

Happy in the sunshine!

So curious!

So curious!

Getting sidetracked...

As I’m sitting in my office today dealing with paperwork (not my strong point!) I started procrastinating and began scrolling through my photos. These two made me smile and remind me what it is I love about farming and how I love the practical hands on work. I don’t think I’ve looked happier than these two pics, one completely covered head to toe in dirt after finishing removing the plastic mulch from my tomato crop and the other one proudly showing off one of our little lambs that would go on in a couple months to top the fat lamb market! I love the cyclical nature and being part of a product from go to whoa. Sigh….back to my paperwork!

Absolutely beaming!

Absolutely beaming!

Proud as punch :)

Proud as punch :)

Future Farmers - Blast from the past

As I was organising my office last night, I stumbled across something that I had completely forgotten about. It seemed to have come just at the right time as well, as I’m in the process of planning my next direction in the ag industry. It was a photocopy of ‘The Future Farmer Creed’ that my Dad had given to me a couple of years ago. My parents were born and raised in California with my Dad’s family being farmers too. He in high school joined the Future Farmers of America which coincided with teaching Ag in schools, and through their classes learnt about all things Ag, from fruit, veg and milk quality to showing livestock and animal husbandry, Future Farmers was focused on setting up the next generation of farming professionals.

There are five paragraphs in the creed and if I can summarise them all with one word it would look like this:

  • Innovation
  • Passion
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Community

I guess this just hit home as to what farming actually means to me. It’s much, much more than a job, and I was pleasantly surprised that the values that were represented in this creed from 50 years ago still ring true today. I’m excited to begin my new pathway in an industry that continues to challenge, energise, push and develop me – lets see what the next stage brings.

Farming – not just a job.

The Creed!

The Creed!

Oh hello there!

Oh hello there!

Ag Inspirations - choosing career paths

Last week I had the pleasure of facilitating another ‘Ag Inspirations’ program with Manjimup Year 9s, for the Shire of Manjimup.  The main focus of the program is to get out on farm and for interested young people to get the chance to talk to producers and Ag support industry professionals and really get an idea about the diverse range of career opportunities available within Ag.

Another thing is that by doing this, the realisation hit home that most career paths aren’t straight lines.  They veer and wiggle and change direction countless times before hitting home and settling on something that feels and sits right.  But this feeling isn’t by chance, it’s a result of all the different skills they have learnt and different experiences they’ve had along the way that might not have seen related or useful at the time but that all help to set you up on a path that fits you.

One clear example of this was Charlie and Coleen from CharCol Springs in West Manjimup.  An inspiring young couple, both originally from the wheatbelt in WA, they have both had several different careers – Charlie was a shearer for about 10 years travelling the world, Coleen a nanny/childcare worker who also caught the travel bug.  However over time they painted a picture about what they wanted for themselves as a career and also their family and that was to set up a family farm.  They now run aprox 1000 pastured chickens and a small, developing beef herd on their 70 acres and their passion and the joy they find in their farm is so obvious for all to see and definitely made an impact on my group of year 9s.  As part of the program they had to document the ‘career journey’ of someone that made an impact on them during the 4 days and the majority of the group chose either Coleen or Charlie.   And the points that we kept hearing, those things that had hit home were phrases and words like:

  • Love their animals, love their farm
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things
  • Find a way to do what you love and don’t waste time doing something you don’t
  • Work towards goals as they will happen
  • Always do your best in any job – you’ll learn new skills in everything you do
  • Keep your sense of humour and spend time enjoying your family, friends and surroundings
  • There is a definite future for people in agriculture and you don’t need to be from a farming background to have a go, you just need to love and connect with producing food

They’re a wonderful couple with a great story and a real love for their farm and their animals.  It definitely hit home with my group and with me too.

Check out more of CharCol Springs herehttp://www.charcolsprings.com.au/

Agriculture's Bright Future

There’s a lot of talk lately around where the future Australian farmers and Ag professionals are going to come from and last week I was lucky enough to participate in not just one but two fantastic events involving the next crop of food producers that was well and truly refreshing and exciting!

The WA Department of Agriculture and Food horticulture research station down in the gorgeous town of Manjimup hosts a career day every year for young people in the Warren Blackwood Region.  Home to some of the biggest orchards in WA (and Australia), a booming truffle industry and a world class vegetable industry Manjimup and the Southern Forests Region is an Agrifood superstar (http://www.southernforestsfood.com/)!

Thursday saw local year 10, 11 and 12s descend upon the research station to hear from DAFWA staff about exciting projects (https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/countryman/a/24374022/the-black-apple-of-worlds-eye/), Ag professionals about life and work in the industry and other young people currently undertaking traineeships.  I was lucky enough to chat to them about the huge and diverse range of career options available to them and was thrilled to hear how industry aware they were and how engaged and keen they were to chat about the importance of farming – lovely stuff!

And to top off an awesome Ag week, who did we get down in the beautiful South West on Friday but the ever informative and energetic Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, the fantastic Dr Chris Smith (UKs Naked Scientist) and the inspiring Professor Lyn Beazley.  Such an incredible line up to get out in the regions and well done to Stephanie Carstairs from the Southern Forests Seed Program (https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Southern-Forests-SEED-Program/659701337418619) for making the ‘Growing Science Forum’ happen.  What a wonderful opportunity for the 100 plus group of students to listen, interact and discuss the importance of science in agriculture with such a high calibre of presenters.

Events such as these two are so important in keeping high school kids informed about the opportunities available to them but also getting them excited about ag science and their own potential in shaping the future of the industry.   I for one can’t wait to follow this up and coming group of young farming enthusiasts.  Great things are happening in WA – watch this space

Very excited to meet the exuberant Dr Karl!

Very excited to meet the exuberant Dr Karl!


Local Manjimup students enjoying the DAFWA career booth

Local Manjimup students enjoying the DAFWA career booth