This time last year I had just MC’d an event and panel discussion at an event in Castlemaine where David Holmgren introduced his new book “Retrosuburbia: the downshifters guide to a resilient future″ (you can read the blog here, or check out the Retrosuburbia website here.
A big part of David’s vision for a resilient and sustainable future is seeing household food growing become part of everyday life – which aligns strongly with our mission to get everyone growing their own fruit – so we were delighted that he included our range of ebooks (which are free for members of our Grow Great Fruit program) in his book.
At the time we noted that growing our Grow Great Fruit coaching business was one of the motivations for establishing the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op, to free us from the day-to-day business of farming.
Some of the ideas we were tossing about at the time included:
- Taking the GGF program to other countries;
- Providing more services for members;
- Returning to running workshops;
- Taking workshops online to make them more accessible;
- Providing scholarships;
- Working with small-scale or start-up farmers to help increase profitability and sustainability;
- Working with community groups.
So, 12 months on, how are we doing? Have we made any progress at all?
Well, yes – but not as much as we had hoped, mainly because everything always takes longer than you think it’s going to!
This has been true for pretty much every aspect of life for the last year, like adjusting to not being farmers (harder than we expected), the infrastructure project we’ve been building for the Co-op (consumed a lot more time and resources than we optimistically hoped), and the fact that our previous commitments seemed to suddenly expand to take up more space in our lives. Many times we’ve wondered how we ever had time to farm at all!
Despite all that we’ve made some good progress, so here’s our report card for the last 12 months:
- Went on a 5 week study tour to America to check out whether the Grow Great Fruit program is a good fit over there (and came back feeling pretty confident that it is);
- Grew the membership of the program by 30%;
- Increased services to members (e.g. more one-on-one consulting calls);
- Created “on-demand” webinars to increase accessibility and convenience;
- Changed the format of our Weekly Fruit Tips newsletter to provide more meaningful free content every week;
- Trialed an online workshop for small-scale farmers.
We’ve got a long way to go, and still feel like what we’re doing is just a drop in the ocean compared to what’s possible.
But what’s great is that we’re more interested and excited than ever about helping home fruit-growing enthusiasts to turn their passion into reliable crops.
We still have lots of plans in the pipeline – so the next 12 months should be just as exciting as the last!