Here’s a story about some farmers (it may sound familiar…)

A young couple returned to the wife’s family farm because her dad was about to sell up. She suddenly realised she wanted to be a farmer, and her husband was up for a career change.

After serving an apprenticeship with her dad, they decided to convert the farm to organics. They spent years studying, changing the way they farmed, and making lots of mistakes.

The drought hit, and along with it came bird plagues, hail storms, and disease outbreaks. They kept absorbing the shocks, learning, and adapting.

Then the drought broke, with record-breaking floods, and it almost…almost…did them in.

How natural disasters shape farmer’s stories

In the 10 years of the drought, the number of farmers in their district halved. One after another succumbed to the combined pressures of drought and debt. They sold or left their farms (none, mercifully, by taking their own lives).

This young couple came very close to making the same decision.

But they didn’t.

Poring over spreadsheets with business consultant Clare Fountain
Poring over spreadsheets with business consultant Clare Fountain

Instead, they got some great professional advice. They decided to stay, rebuild and plant new orchards. Most importantly, they learned the value of diversification to protect them in the future against the risks inherent in farming.

While they still loved farming, they also knew they needed to put their skills to work in a new way. A way that would help other people survive the experiences they’d been through, and at the same time provide an income that wasn’t dependent on the weather.

And so, Grow Great Fruit was born.

That’s our story of course, with a hundred other little stories hidden in there as well.

Why we went organic, how we started an online business, and what it’s like to live and work every day with your family.

Of course, we’re not unique or special. Every farming family in Australia has its own stories to tell.

Katie's dad and Hugh planting the new peach block, 2010
Katie’s dad and Hugh planting the new peach block, 2010

Why do farming stories matter?

It’s not that long ago that most families would have had some connection with a farm. An uncle or aunt, grandfather, or a family friend.

But in the last 50 or so years, a lot of those connections have been lost as family farms have disappeared. Most people are not connected with a farm that they can easily visit.

That means we’ve lost that vital connection to where our food comes from. But we’d love to see that change! Growing food is so intrinsic to our human nature that many people are longing to reconnect with the land, even if they’re not aware of it!

Why aren’t more farmers telling their stories?

Farmers are usually great at farming, but not so good at story-telling. In fact, most of them don’t think their story is worth telling. They can’t imagine anyone would be remotely interested in what they do.

We disagree! Every time you eat, there’s a story behind the farmer who grew the food on your plate.

If it was grown in a massive profit-driven farm – meh. That story is all about the corporate machine, putting profits above people, and the destruction of our ecosystems.

But if your food was produced on a small-scale farm using regenerative practices, that’s another story.

Behind that food are stirring tales of passion, adversity, and battling the elements. Of early mornings, long, hard days, and the big financial risks these dedicated farmers often take.

Calling on farmers to share their stories

Some farmers are sharing their stories and doing a fantastic job. When you start looking, there are hundreds of small-scale, family farms out there.

Here are just a few farmers we know who put in the effort to share their stories with the world.

Do you know your local farmers?

We’d love to add to this list! If you follow any great farmers, please pop them in the comments below to help spread the word about them.

And if you’re a farmer – please add yourself to the list, we’d love to hear from you!

If you’re not aware of farmers in your area, we’d encourage you to seek them out. Even if you live in a city, there’s probably a farmer near you if you go looking.

Follow them on the socials, sign up for their newsletters, and read their blogs.

Their farming stories and their trials, tribulations, and successes are fascinating. We can guarantee you’ll feel more connected to your food and the world.

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