Fruit growing is something that busy people fear they will struggle to fit into their lifestyle. It’s something we hear a lot when we run the Learn.Plan.Succeed course.
Do you think of yourself as a busy person?
As farmers for many years, our lives have been packed to the brim with growing fruit, raising 5 kids, and community involvement.
Along the way we’ve taken on a few big projects like setting up the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op, and the year-long RIRDC Rural Women’s Award that Katie did in 2015.
We know from personal experience that when you’re busy, it feels hard to fit in the fruit growing.
Sound familiar? Maybe the details are different, but we bet that for most people reading this, there have been times in your life when it just feels like you can’t fit it all in.
But the bottom line is that fruit growing is too important to let it be squeezed out of your life. So, we can show you how to find ways to make room for it, no matter how busy you are.
What does “being busy” really mean?
When Katie was up to the eyeballs with the RIRDC project, here’s what she had to say about being busy…
“My theory is that “busy” is a code word that l (and lots of other people) use when what we really mean is overworked, stressed, under-supported, tired, financially burdened, worried, over-committed, important, in demand, or worthy of your sympathy! For me, busy had become my not-so-subtle way of saying to people (a) look how popular and ‘in demand’ I am; (b) isn’t the life of a farmer hard; (c) don’t expect me to take on anything else; and (d) look at me, I’m superwoman! None of which is actually true.”
So, we totally “get” the fear that a lot of gardeners have about being able to find the time to look after their fruit trees.
Growing fruit is seasonal. Most fruit trees only have a single crop each year. While that restricts the job of harvesting to a short time, it can be intense! You only get one chance to gather the yield from your fruit trees, which means you need to get it right.
Harvest is definitely crunch time. It’s arguably the most important part of your gardening calendar, because if you don’t get this part of the process right, the rest of it is kind of pointless.
That is unless you’re content for your fruit growing to just be an expensive hobby (which we’re not!).
At this time of year your workload is imposed on you. Not just by the demands of picking and storing produce at peak condition, but also processing all that delicious food, and of course recording everything.
It’s easy to feel that it’s out of our control – but of course, that’s not true.
Yes, during the peak of the fruit season there may be no extra time to catch up on regular garden jobs.
But as the season starts to slow down into a more manageable pace, it’s easier to find the time to reflect on the season. Notice what worked, and what hasn’t worked. Could you introduce more efficiencies?
It’s also a wonderful time to remind yourself that you chose this lifestyle! Honestly, would you rather be spending your time being busy in the garden growing your own food, or being busy working a 9 to 5 job so you’ve got more money to spend on buying food?
Each time we’ve passed on the running of the orchard to new growers, we’re very conscious of the need to teach them as much as we can about the fruit business, as quickly as possible.
But we’re also seeing that their new energy brings a different perspective to the orchard. It leads to new initiatives, new ways of doing business and new efficiencies that we’d never thought of.
We’ve learned many lessons from the new farmers who run our orchard. The next generation of farmers is much more focused on finding novel ways of managing the “busyness” of harvest while balancing it with the rest of their lives.
A lot of the secret lies in co-operation. Getting more people involved in an orchard, a farm, or a garden lightens the load for everyone.
They are great lessons that we can now share with our Grow Great Fruit community. As we’ve seen our community grow, we’ve delighted in the connections they make with each other through our courses, forums, Facebook groups, and Q&A sessions.
There’s something very special about coming together to celebrate shared experience. No matter how “busy” we get in the garden (or here on the farm), we always make time to connect with others who share our passion for fruit growing.
In some magical way, it always seems to lighten the load and remind us of how worthwhile all that “busyness” really is.