One of our best mates, Jonathan Cooper recently started working with Fat Pig Farm to develop and manage their market garden – it’s a great job with great people – he’s stoked. But it got me thinking about market gardening and how while it hasn’t changed, we have. Mainstream culture seems to be seeing it differently and actually valuing it like it deserves.
Farmers have always been critical to a healthy and viable society, but not always celebrated. In many countries they were traditionally called peasants (and still are), a term generally used in a negative way referring to poor or landless farmers and agricultural workers. The unsaid feeling that went with this term implied that peasants were uneducated, ignorant, and of a lower class. But it feels like this is changing as the world wakes up and realises that without happy, healthy farmers, and some argue small-scale farmers in particular – our food system will collapse.
A key game changer was, and continues to be, the establishment of La Via Campesina.
“La Via Campesina is the international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity. It strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.”
Established in 1993, it’s been changing the way people think and act towards farmers ever since.
“La Via Campesina comprises about 164 local and national organizations in 73 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Altogether, it represents about 200 million farmers. It is an autonomous, pluralist and multicultural movement, independent from any political, economic or other type of affiliation.”
When I was 18 (2001) I was heavily involved in all things permaculture, urban agriculture, community development and sustainability (still am). And while I lived and worked on small farms here and there it was soooo different to now. Back then I would struggle to name a handful of young people market gardening/farming. Now? Now they are everywhere. There seem to be more supported opportunities for young folks to farm. People are hiring skilled growers to farm on their private land, people without cash are leasing land to run small market gardening businesses on. Others like myself are organising with people to start up initiatives like the Hobart City Farm. And people are *loving* it, and us. People don’t look at me sideways when I tell what I do for a living/life anymore, for which I’m very grateful.
So back to Jonathan (or Jono as we know him)…..
Jono is one of the many, much loved modern market gardeners we have in Tassie. Matthew and Sadie, of Fat Pig Farm and The Gourmet Farmer fame, have hired Jono to ramp up and extend their market garden which will eventually feed into their onsite restaurant and family home. It’s a beautiful farm, full of potential which is quickly becoming reality by these two go-getters.
Included in the space is a mixed market garden with both annuals and perennials, a to soon to be olive grove, bees, mixed orchard, chickens a giant hot house for extending the seasons and a big gathering space to allow people to come, learn and enjoy the space. And of course there are pigs on the sidelines, watching on. I have no doubt that this farm will develop into a gorgeous home and a unique experience for people coming through to have an insight into farm life, but also good life.
Fresh mounds waiting for the young olive trees to be planted within the coming weeks.
I’m forever grateful for good people and particularly *love* it when they work together as this is where the magic happens. And you can be sure there’s some magic going down on Fat Pig Farm – be sure to watch this space…