Ice-cold ginger lemon kefir in hand, there was plenty to see and do at the South Coast Field Days. Resurrected after a ten-year hiatus in 2013, the Field Days event is all about bringing the growers and makers of the south coast together. A smorgasbord of demonstrations, workshops and panel discussions were crammed into a gorgeous spring weekend on the 12 and 13th of September. Everywhere you looked, there was an expert on something, be it natural beekeeping (Adrian Iodice), regenerative farming (Rob Fenton) or traditional diets (Emily Stokes). You could learn about spoonsmithing, rocket stoves and blacksmithing. If that was all too much, you could gawk at the gorgeous little Dexter cattle or Mohair goats. I mean, jeez. It was off-the-charts awesome.
I was lucky enough to be on the ‘Small new beginnnings – an Agrarian Revolution’ panel, featuring some of my south coast lady-farmer crushes, namely: Genevieve Derwent (Autumn Farm), Kirsti Wilkinson (Old Mill Road BioFarm), Penny Kothe (Caroola Farm), Thea Constantaridis (Fishbone Farm), and Kirsten Bradley (Milkwood Permaculture). Chuck us on a stage and throw a couple of microphones into the mix and we’re a rowdy bunch. We got into the nitty gritty of making small farms viable, what it takes to inspire new farmers, and how we all found ourselves in the “farming way.” There was some serious lady farmer power in that tent in the middle of the Bega showgrounds. It was pretty darn empowering.
I had the incredible chance to stay with Genevieve and Annie of Autumn Farm, tucked away in the hills above Bega. Together with their kids Olive and Oscar, they run a small pastured chicken farm, all while living in a fairytale strawbale cottage. The weekend was a blur of beetroot hummus, Moreton Bay fig climbing and dragon hunting. I left Sunday afternoon sun-dazed and content, thrilled to be part of this network of genuine growers, rearers and makers. Small farms might just be the answer.