PUGF – 2019

PUGF 2019 saw uss incubate 22 new farmers across five pop up garlic farms across Melbourne and surrounds. The sites included:

Seaford at the ‘Downs Estate Community Garden’ where Robyn, Rod, Tessa and Kylie are planning to use the course as a pathway to expand and explore the possibility of a market garden onsite.

Silvertine farm at ‘Yarra Valley Eccos’ where Andrew, Tess, Michelle and Bridget have joined forces Bio Dynamic farmers Josh and Tobias for their garlic growing adventure.

Collingwood Children’s Farm boasts a new farmer dream line up featuring Cassie, Ben, Bree and Kaitlyn who are squeezing in their 80m2 of collectively grown garlic behind the pig pens.

‘Flora of Vic’ Keilor where Tom and his dog Panda, are joined by Melanie, Susie, Marion and Kylie with an expansive plot just behind the native grass farm, along the banks of the Maribyrnong river.

‘Marg and Johns Sheep Farm’ Cardinia. Thanks to the generosity hard and work from the ‘Sustain Network’ Brett, Lindy, Ajak and Queyea have been able to take up sponsored course positions at our newest site!

The story thus far goes a little like this. 

On the 2nd of March we kicked off proceeding with the help of Northcote’s Permaculture wonder woman Kat Lavers to run our Introductions and Planning Workshop. We got to know each other, connected to a common cause and agreed upon how we would work together over the garlic season ahead!


Paul from Days Walk farm and Farmer Incubator gave our new farmers the low down on our latest addition to the 2019 course the Crop Enterprise Budget, a simple tool to help each participant keep track of the fiscal comings and goings of their garlic crop production. Farmers were sent away with the task of conducting a site visit and taking a soil sample.


On the 23rd of March we made our way to Keilor with our soil samples for Workshop #2 on Soils and Agronomy.  Our hosts from ‘Flora of Vic’ Micheal and Michelle Howson gave us a important history lesson on market gardening in the valley and we payed our respects and acknowledged the deeply connected forms of Wurundjeri plant cultivation that have existed the area for 41,000 years.

Soil scientist and sustainable agriculture expert from Westernport Landcare Chris Alenson returned to the PUGF program to deliver a comprehensive overview of agricultural soils. We pulled out our soil samples from Seaford, Cardinia, Yarra Valley, Keilor and Collingwood examining the texture, structure, odour and acidity of our soils to determine the suitability for garlic production.  

Then, after Farmer Incubators all time top five soil tips, each participant was handed their garlic for safe keeping until planting after the planting and cultivating workshop.

Our #3rd Workshop ‘Planting and Cultivating’ was hosted at Collingwood Children’s Farm on 13th April. It was a beautiful sunny Autumn day, the group was joined by professional garlic farmer Remi and Will from Pig and Earth to learn some tips on bed preparation and how to give their garlic the best start to life after planting.

PUGF workshop 3 cultivating-55

PUGF workshop 3 cultivating-22PUGF workshop 3 cultivating-35

The goal for the day was to turn the plot at Collingwood Children’s Farm from paddock to a cultivated space with beds ready for planting. Everyone got together and worked their farmer energy into prep and were fuelled by our now signature homemade tzatziki and corn chips !

PUGF workshop 3 cultivating-26.jpg

Remi showed us how to use a range of hand tools which will come in handy for taking care of the garlic until it will be time to harvest ! This included using the spacer for planting, some different hoes and techniques, the broadfork and the BCS two wheeled tractor that Farm Raiser kindly lent to us for it’s first debut in field ! Will and team were on a mission to make the fences pig proof by making a few amendments and adding more poles in the ground.

PUGF workshop 3 cultivating-77PUGF workshop 3 cultivating-80PUGF workshop 3 cultivating-32

Workshop #4 – Farm Tour at Days Walk Farm ! 

The group were invited for a farm tour at Days Walk Farm to witness and understand how farmie Paul operates his 16 acre market garden. The day started off with morning tea off the tractor forks before walking down to watch Beck explain how to use the Jeng seeder in sowing a row of salad mix. Paul gives some deeper insights into the runnings of the farm, life as a farm owner as they walk around the various rows and fields.


Delicious farm harvested nettle soup was served for lunch, which gave the participants energy for weeding the Farmer Incubator 2020 seed crop of garlic ! Per gave an introduction to land regeneration, and showed different ways of preparing and planting various native trees. In the late afternoon, Tracy returned from her busy day at the Saturday Farmers Market in Coburg, and was glad that everyone made human chains to help her unpack the ute !



Selection Process

PUGF sites are selected by paying participants on a ‘first in (ticket buyers) best dressed’ basis – to account for this we will not be opening the sites for selection until all of them have been secured.  

2019 PUGF Site Description

Keilor Site – Flora Vic, Keilor

Located just half an hour’s drive from Melbourne, these plots are found across the river from Paul Mirgaliotta’s organic farm at Flora Vic native grass farm.  Mike and Shelley are working with FI to run water from their big dam for irrigation and will share their shed for tool storage and crop curing. There is also a rototiller onsite that will come in handy throughout the program. The Maribyrnong River runs along the border of the property and is a great place for a swim after a long weeding session! (5 spots available)

Ballan Site – Mohan’s Walnut Farm, Denholms Rd/Gillespies Rd, Ballan

Located roughly 80km out of Melbourne, this is our most rural (and most peaceful) site. The property is 55 acres in total, and is currently being established as a beautiful walnut grove and English country garden. Accessible via the V-Line train and also driving (approx 1hr from Melb), you will be lunching under the beautiful elm trees or at one of the numerous op-shops in town. For the true rural experience within a very cute country town, sign up to this gorgeous site. (4 spots available)

Yarra Valley Site – Silvertine Farm, Old Warburton Rd, Wesburn

Silvertine Farm is just over an hours drive east of Melbourne. Also accessible by public transport, Silvertine is an organic & biodynamic vegetable farming business of Josh Tucker and Tobias Magar that sits on the the edge of the Yarra Valley Ecoss sustainable community living hub. This site is set in a beautiful rural bush location and offers all the necessary amenities for PUGF experience along with a chance to tap into a community of earth focused activists and artists. (4 spots available)

City Site, Collingwood Childrens Farm

Nestled between the banks of the Yarra River and the grounds of the Abbotsford Convent and only 5 km from the heart of Melbourne, the Collingwood Children’s Farm sits on a patch known to be the the oldest continually farmed land by colonialists in the state of Victoria, with farming commencing in 1838. Always buzzing with activity, the pigs at CCF have generously offered to share a fallow yard in their sty, just below the quince trees, with 4 PUGF participants. You will need a current Working with Childrens Check and to register with CCF to be eligible to farm here. You can arrange this once you have bought your PUGF ticket 😉 (4 spots available)


It is important to check whether you are available for the following dates. Here is the list of fantastic PUGF program workshops you can be a part of as a Pop Up Garlic Farmer – dates and content may be subject to minor changes but will be confirmed by Jan 2019.

Workshop 1 – Introductions & Planning

Date: Saturday 2nd March

Time: 1:45pm – 5:30pm.

– Introduction to Farmer Incubator, meeting our site facilitators, overview of the course, notes handout, site descriptions & meeting your fellow garlic farmers.

– Group decision-making & effective teamwork with Tom from Polykala (Adaptive Leadership Training experts).

– Basic crop enterprise budgeting & planning

Workshop 2 – Soils & Agronomy

Date: Saturday 23th March

Time: 9:45am – 3pm

Location: PUGF Farm Site (TBC)
Facilitator: Agronomist
Extra notes: lunch provided, sturdy enclosed footwear required.

– Introduction to soils; learn the basics of soil chemistry, biology and structure from a professional Agronomist.

– Discussion of soil amendments and appropriate soil prep and maintenance.

– Please bring…soil from your site 😉

Workshop 3 – Planting & Cultivating

Date: Saturday 13th April

Time: 1:45pm – 5pm

– Safe and effective use of farm tools & equipment, as well as proper maintenance.
– Bed preparation, and sowing & caring for the crop.

Workshop 4 – Farm Tour

Date: Saturday 18 May

Time: 10:15 am – 3pm

– Farmer Paul will take us on a tour of his farm to show us how it all works! This will give you a good idea of the practical aspects of running a market garden, hear about some of his highlights as well as some of the challenges faced, and provide you with an opportunity to ask an experienced farmer all your questions.

Workshop 5 – Marketing Your Product

Date: Saturday 10th August

Time: 9:45am – 2pm

– Introduction to food marketing, and an exploration of the many ways to sell your food product; how to have an effective farmers market stall, the experience of a small farm selling direct to retailers & restaurants and the benefits of value-adding.

Workshop 6 – Weeds, Pests & Diseases

Date: Saturday 21st September

Time: 9:45am – 2pm

– An onsite farm workshop & discussion of the potential weeds, pests and diseases that might arise, strategies on how best to manage them and the effect on the crop’s outcome if not effectively mitigated.

Workshop 7 – Co-farming and Accessing Land for Your Future Farm

Date: Saturday 19th October

Time: 10am – 3pm

– Learn about co-farming models in practice here in Australia and abroad and get ideas in how you can access land via alternative pathways through conversations with Cultivate Farms, Future Feeders and Ori-Coop.

Workshop 8 – Harvesting and Decision Making

Date: Saturday 9th November

Time: 9:15am -2pm

Location: Day’s Walk Farm – 27 Koronis Rd, Keilor

Facilitators: Paul Miragliotta

– Learn how to correctly harvest your garlic, safely store & cure it, as well as how to braid and even preserve it! This is our final workshop together, and we will celebrate the finish of our time together as a group by feasting on a delicious pot-luck farm lunch one last time!

For more information about our previous years, visit our blog page for more material on what we do and why.