Small farms feed the majority of the world – this is an actual fact and an under-celebrated reality. We need to be kinder to all of of our farmers – but small farms especially, as we need them.
We recently paid a visit to our long-time friends at the Fork and Hoe Collective, a farm in Nichols Rivulet around 50 minutes south of Hobart. The Fork and Hoe Collective is Jonathon Cooper, Thea Webb, Scott Graham, Natasa Milenovic and their boys Sen and Jethro. They moved onto their farm just under 2 years ago and promptly got cows, chooks, ducks, bees, pigs, started a market garden, planted an orchard and built a tree house. They’re busy, really busy, so much so, that the only way we get to see them these days is if we come and work with them and cook them dinner.
The Fork and Hoe Farm includes sweeping valleys, green rolling hills, creek flats and forest. I know, it looks awful doesn’t it.
Family photo, L-R: Scotti, Jethro (the littlest one), Sen, Natasa, Thea and Jono on their hay harvest. Image: Fork and Hoe
The UN has declared 2014 the international year of the family farmer, they believe that “both in developing and developed countries, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector.” They go on to outline that family and small-scale farming are inextricably linked to world food security.
Throughout Africa and the Asia Pacific region family, small-scale farming is incredibly common (between 60% – 85% of land is small-scale family farmed). In Australia some people still think it’s strange to start a farm which is smaller than 100 acres, however it’s been shown again and again that small-scale farming is more resilient to climate change, healthier for the land, water and people involved in running the show. How is this so? Generally, small farms take a more holistic approach to farming, have more diverse cropping systems, integrate animals into their food cycle, operate on a local economy so money stays in the region and run on strong social ethics ensuring people are looked after.
The official logo for the Fork and Hoe mob is this donkey drawing a cart with two pairs in it – cause there are two pairs of adults running the show. And the donkey? Well, they really like them and may even get one… one day (fingers crossed). Local artist, Tonia Gretschmann from The Paper Shed whipped this beauty up and we all love it.
Steaming compost goodness – Thea, Bridget (and me) turning the compost pile – a great way to wake up!
Making compost is a constant event. Eventually they’ll systemise their composting process with tractors and windrows, but for the time being every pile helps build healthy soils, healthy food and healthy people.
Some of the colourful and tasty produce coming out of the garden at the moment.
The propagation hot house is a happy place – full of new life.
A small army of wwoofers, friends and kids helping to prep some fresh beds for garlic planting. We added some gypsum, chook poo pellets, rock dust and lime before planting. If you’re wondering what to add to your soils – get a soil test first to tailor the inputs to your site.
James (a wwoofer) uses the roller to mark out the spaces for where we’ll plant garlic – this ensures that weeding is super easy as everything’s in neat rows and evenly spaced.
Yours truly… It helps to have long legs when planting
The planters can then quickly come along behind the roller and pop in the garlics really quickly. We prepped and planted out eight 30m beds before lunch time – where we ate a lot.
Other delights on the small farm are Doris and her 12 piglets, the cows, ducks and chooks of and the turkeys are hilarious.
Being 5, it’s critically important Sen has his own hide out where he can sit and keep an eye on everyone and dictate his wisdom to the world – which he’s really good at.
Freshly baked sourdough happens each morning to feed to masses.
We had a sleep over and converted their pile of hay bales into a bale room within the barn for a feast. We crammed in around 20 wwoofers, kids and friends – it was pretty cosy and darn yummy.
Sticking cloves in an orange to make mulled wine for our feast – a critical element to warming up folk on a crispy cool Tassie night.
James (one of the wonderful wwoofer) is in the final stages of building this beaut rocket stove fire bath. We hope that they use it regularly (and the hammock behind it) to rest their hard-working bones and to admire the stars and their stunning market garden.
You can find the Fork and Hoe Collective selling their produce every Saturday at the Salamanca Markets and follow them on facebook to keep in the loop with their small farm and big hearts.
Want to read more about small-scale family farms?
- Explore the UN’s report which highlights how small farms are key to a sustainable food system.
*Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, co-director of Good Life Permaculture and lover of all things fun and garden-esk.