Friday, 2 August 2013

5 Questions with Andrew, Therese and Near River

How did Near River get to be..Near (the) River?

Almost 7 years ago we left Sydney to set up our organic market farm and follow our dream of being farmers.  We'd recently been re-inspired by attending a David Suzuki lecture that had him finishing the presentation with the words "and for heavens sake, eat organic foods".

After much searching we found our piece of paradise and it has proved to be well sited with shelter from the west and south and an open easterly aspect providing warming morning sun.

The previous owners had been there for 15 years and had run their horses on the 22 acres of alluvial river flats, so the soil was in pretty good shape as it hadn't been chemically farmed for that length of time.

The Pappinbarra River forms the northern boundary of the property and it drains in to the Hastings River which flows past Port Macquarie.

The name finally came to us when our first Telstra bill arrived, with the property name "Near River" as the phone bills can be useful at times!

What was your life prior to Near River

I'm Sydney born and bread and had been a "city farmer" running my own landscaping and garden care centre for 12 years.  I then spent 2 years with a large commercial landscaper (leading many of the teams that planted the 800,000 trees and grasses on the M7 motorway) before doing the "tree change".

We lived in Coogee so got to spend time by the ocean, so one of the parameters for the property was that it had to be no more than an hour away from the coast. Therese (who is originally from Ireland) has a career in Project Management with Mobile Communications carriers and works in Sydney 4 days each week.  I then travel down on Friday evenings with a load of fresh produce and we man the stall together each Saturday morning before returning to the farm for the weekend.

You are now a fully entrenched and much loved trader at Orange Grove Markets.  How do you find life as a stallie

We love the opportunity to interact directly with our customers.  As farmers we have an untold number of variables to deal with, so receiving accolades from the end user in person is the added reward for what we do.  

Each week we are both pleasantly surprised by the unsolicited feedback that we get aside from our commitment to supplying our community with nutrient dense food, it's what keeps us going.

You are passionate and an advocate for living a more sustainable life.  What would be 3 basic steps that we could all do in order to assist in reducing our own carbon footprint, small though it may be

Eat Local Food: and as customers at Orange Grove Markets you are already doing that but the benefits run very deep.  By doing this, your food is as close to its nutritional peak as it can be.  Your money stays in your community.  Food is seasonal for a reason and our bodies respond to that: your farmers will be happy!

If you eat meat, ensure it is sustainably raised: aside from the benefit to the animal's health which is then reflected in the quality of the meat, pasture raised enterprises have a much lighter impact on the environment than feedlots and the like.

Pass on your knowledge of cooking food to a younger generation (or go find out for yourself!): growing your own food, even if it's just some herbs at the back door, has you connected with the soil, the seasons and nature. And the benefits of home cooking and sharing meals made with love are many.  We are keen supporters of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Scheme (click "here" for more information) and are so pleased that funding has now been provided to have this available in every school.

Through being a marketeer, what has been one of the more profound experiences you have had in your time at Orange Grove Markets

The most profound experiences are always with the children where parents say things like "My daughter doesn't normally eat any tomatoes but I couldn't keep her away from yours - they're so sweet and tasty".

It's also about connection and feedback - finding out how people use our preserves, or how they cook with our garlic or the meals and celebrations they have had using our ducks and chickens or how many people rave about our eggs ("I can't eat any other eggs now" is a common refrain).

Allowing people to shake the hand of the farmer that grows their food and then taking that food into their homes and families is a most profound and empowering experience for us.


Now we could not let this piece end without a stand out photo taken of said farmer, but before we do we thank Andrew & Therese for being who they are, continually sharing their amazing produce and sharing a little bit of their lives with us and thankfully you can catch up with them every Saturday at Orange Grove Markets!