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                  What’s the deal with the seaweed? I harvest the seaweed ethically from Palm Beach. I plant my seeds into beds of it mixed with cow manure and straw. I don’t use anything that has been made in a factory, even if it is ‘certified organic’. In my experience, conventional potato and garlic farming can use horrific chemicals that we end up eating. Why organic? Growing organically suits the Highlands as most of the neighbouring farmland is either National Park or lifestyle properties. The last thing you want is a mine here, or chemical spray drift from conventional farms. Where do you sell? I started at the Bowral Public School markets and at a few in Sydney, but now I just do Carriageworks. As it’s in the centre of Sydney, it takes my entire crop, along with the city chefs I supply. Life is busy! What’s key to making
a living? Keeping costs down. Marketing is vital too. You should be clear and concise about what you are supplying so you have a differentiation in the marketplace. Then you need to have a consistent volume of supply. You need to be able to grow a lot of it without compromising your vision. Why don’t you live here? Well, not to put too fine a point on
it, I love the beach as well. So we live in Sydney and I do a lot of driving. You can’t make people be someone they are not, so that’s fine. My son Pete loves the country, though, and Mum and Dad help out, so I’m not alone. What’s the key to beautiful tasting spuds and garlic? Not irrigating. When you rely on natural rainfall you get more intense flavoured spuds and garlic. It’s called ‘dry farming’ and
it’s what I believe in. And eating them freshly harvested. I don’t plough or cultivate the topsoil but use the potatoes to break up the soil. After the potatoes, in goes the garlic. Best piece of advice? My mum always told me to march
to the beat of my own drum. Also, if you want to farm, start small. 100 plants this year, 1000 next year, and so on. If it fails, you can eat it! What qualities do you need to be a good grower? Honesty, physical fitness, vision. Have you been well supported by other growers? Very much so. People like Brigid Kennedy at the Loch and Diego at the Berrima General Store have brought an renewed energy to the area that is rooted in real food. Michael and Cressida at Pecora Dairy are world class in what they do. Not tempted to buy the Big Potato at Robbo that’s for sale? Hmmm, might need a renovation, maybe a couple of windows and a wraparound deck. Vegie garden out the back, farm gate at the front. YES! And finally at 44 you are still hopefully a long way off but please finish this sentence, ‘Old spud and garlic farmers never die...’ They just get composted. E

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