Kinsfolk Farm Market Garden – Geelong Times
Kinsfolk Farm is a hidden half acre market garden in Moriac.
Bridie Cotter and Tom Gaunt, along with their two-year-old daughter, use organic principles to grow delicious, nutrient-dense vegetables on the small plot of rented land.
Each week they sell their products directly to their local community in the Greater Geelong and Surf Coast region.
Bridie and Tom might not be the ones you’d expect to be farming full time.
Bridie grew up in Geelong before moving to Melbourne in her early twenties to study music performance and spend years singing in inner city bands.
“I did all of that for about five years, being in a band, and all that, but I was working at a big organic grocery store up north and I started getting more and more interested in food and its origins and to good food and food systems,” Bridie said.
“At the same time, Tom studied industrial design and worked in a lighting design company.
“We both felt maybe a little too alive in the city and how competitive the lifestyle was, let alone working and trying to carve your own path and career.
“We had grown some food in our downtown backyard.
“Tom mainly did it and he found he enjoyed doing everything in terms of gardening, especially growing edibles and using them in the kitchen.
“We were also getting a box of vegetables fortnightly from a farm near Daylesford and discovered how amazing the produce was when it was direct from farmer to consumer.
“We were just desperate for more community connections, so we were thinking about how we would like to move to the country.
“I grew up in Geelong and Tom grew up vacationing on the Surf Coast, so I thought, why not give it a try?”
It was then that the couple came up with the idea of small market gardens supplying the local community.
“Our world has just opened up, with all these challenges and possibilities, and we came across small market gardeners mainly in Canada and North America, who were posting their ideas and techniques on how to set up organizations similar all over the world and which you can make a pretty good living if you’re smart about it, and you can do it on rented land.
“So everything seemed accessible to us and we wanted to live in the countryside, so we thought it would be a chance for us to live in the countryside, earn money and work outside.”
Tom and Bridie wanted to find a lifestyle they could love and a like-minded community that appreciated the simple moments in life.
The couple set out to find a piece of land to cultivate their own and share it with others who have the same love for food and cooking.
“Before we knew where to grow, Tom got a job as a garden manager in Brae, so he started his planning journey by growing food on a large scale there.
“It developed the desire in him and with me to go out on our own and start in a place where we felt we could foster a community around us and sell to that community, and that basically became Moriac and Torquay because we have the weekly farmers’ market, and the rest is history.
Now Tom and Bridie grow over 40 varieties of seasonal vegetables and herbs for sale at markets and in weekly vegetable boxes, as well as a selection of varieties at local grocery stores, including Valerie’s Pantry in Geelong and Surfcoast Wholefoods in Torquay, and a number of restaurants and cafes in the area.
“We’ve been farmers since March 2017, so five years, and oh my god, the farmers market is the highlight of our week,” Bridie said.
“It’s a lot of work, but we’ve met so many amazing people and we’ve been able to have relationships and friendships with so many amazing people who now come to the market because we’re here and there’s all the other stalls. holders.
“We love it, and we really feel like we’ve built a community out of it.”
Tom and Bridie now have two like-minded casuals, Kelsie and Ash.
“Depending on the time of year, they work on harvest day once a week, but in spring, summer and autumn they work at least twice a week.
“They are both total legends, they exemplify how important and amazing the community is.
“Ash is about to publish a cookbook called ‘The Small Kitchen Cook’ and she is very aligned with what we do.
“Kelsey is in agriculture, she has been with us for just over two years and has started her own micro flower farm attached to our farm and using her backyard, called ‘Good Blooms’.”
It hasn’t been an easy journey, being a young couple moving into a new community while settling into parenthood, not to mention learning to farm full time.
On odd occasions they deliberately gave it all up, but in the end, Bridie and Tom said they had found a unique lifestyle that was worth any challenge.
“We moved to agricultural sites and then we had a baby all the same years, and it was our first child, so it was just a baptism of fire on all fronts,” Bridie said.
“But we always come back to the realization that we absolutely love working outdoors and growing food, flowers and inedibles, but mostly food and all that, constantly solving problems, constantly learning. to treat the land better, and then we absolutely love agriculture in general.
“And the community interaction, it would be very hard to give up.”
A few weeks ago, Tom and Bride added a little Border Collie Kelpie mix, Annie, to their family.
Where do they see themselves in 5 to 10 years?
“Other market flows may come into play, and we will increase the number of weekly boxes we supply.
“But we’ll probably still be at the farmers market.”Photo: LUCY CROCK