By Georgia Savage
I was born in the city, pretty much in the middle of Melbourne, far far away from the green fields of agriculture. I went to a school where farming was never presented as an genuine career option, and it was a time before kitchen gardens were something found in a school.
Despite this, two years ago I finally discovered the pure joy of growing food. Of digging into the earth and gently placing a cobweb of roots into a suitably sized hole. Of carefully nurturing that plant through shooting green leaves and flowering vegetables until in my hands was a zucchini, a tomato, an ear of corn. I was hooked, and I wanted to learn more about growing food, I wanted to learn how to grow enough to feed others – I wanted to become a farmer.
That’s a big statement for a city slicker that is based on a romantic notion of beautiful sunrises, connectedness with nature and fluffy, yellow, tweeting chicks. I needed to test this craving I had to return to land – well, to go there in the first place really.
It was at this time, riding on my bike down Canning St, I noticed a small sign asking me ‘Did I want to become a garlic farmer?’ I didn’t much like garlic, but the farming part certainly appealed to me. Here was a new program, for people exactly like me, who wanted an opportunity to try growing food on a larger scale. I figured not liking garlic might give me an advantage as I could safely avoid inadvertently eating all my hard work and potential income.
The program began in March with a workshop, and the next 9 months followed in a haze of familiarising myself with farm tools, weeding through endless amounts of stinging nettles and building my sun tan the honest, hardworking kind of way. I learnt about soil science and garlic varieties, I leant what terms like ‘cultivating’ and ‘breaking pasture’ actually mean. I laughed and shared time with my fellow farmers, and I grew a healthy 500 bulbs of garlic.
In December we harvested our crop, which I have shared amongst family and liberally used in my cooking (now a garlic convert!). I have developed the confidence and some assurance in my genuine interest and ability in farming to pursue it further. If you think you might have it in you too, but you want to test the waters with a fun and rewarding experience, get involved in the program in 2016. I’ll be there as one the facilitators and we can work on our tans together!