Farming is awful – the weather’s terrible, it’s cold and wet or really hot, it’s boring – but I love it and I wouldn’t do anything else.
Katherine Gillet ,Two and Five’s farm manager is beautifully honest about her job, The one day a week I’m in the office I really hate it.
Two and Five Farm just north of Geelong are delivering their first big crop of broccoli to Fair Food this week (that’s it in the pics above and below). Just like CERES in Brunswick thirty years ago Two and Five is emerging out of a poor neighbourhood being hit hard by its local manufacturing jobs disappearing offshore.
In 2011 Katherine Gillet was doing a Masters on food insecurity in North Geelong discovering there weren’t many places you could buy fresh produce. Instead of just documenting the problem and moving on Katherine decided to do something. With the help of Workskil, a local employment provider, she started the Two and Five affordable fruit and veg shop in Norlane. Then she went about finding land to grow veggies on. A friend suggested she approach nearby Geelong Grammar about a seven acre piece of land they weren’t using. To her surprise the school agreed on a peppercorn lease and Katherine had her farm. But then came the wait; it took Geelong Grammar 2 years to clean up site before Katherine could begin farming.
Then came another setback; before handover the school had the land deep-ripped. Normally a good thing for a new market garden unfortunately the ripping happened when ground was sodden and Katherine spent another two years getting the wrecked soil back into shape. Finally a year ago, with the help of a couple of interns and a work-for-the-dole team, Katherine started farming a small half acre plot by hand. This year after Two and Five bought a tractor the farm has grown to two acres, with plans to expand the farm to five.
When she started the market garden Katherine was a farming novice but not a complete greenhorn – she’d gardened at home for 15 years and had spent a year on an organic farm in Kinglake. When I ask for her thoughts after her first full year she reflects for a bit and tells me, Farming is really, really hard. This winter was so wet and and cold I couldn’t get the tractor into the field and I nearly packed it in and gave up.
Katherine farms with the help of 2 interns and participants on a Work-for-the-Dole scheme, Some people like the idea of farming but most people say, I’m not getting up at 5.30 am. If you’re not a morning person you can’t be a farmer. Everyone who lasts here longer than a week loves it, she says, particularly Bronk. Bronk used to work at the Ford factory, that’s him harvesting broccoli in the pic above.
Two and Five got their full organic certification with NASAA this year and this summer they’ll be growing tomatoes as well as eggplants, chillis, capsicums, corn, zucchini, peas, pumpkins and lots of beans.