Just recently, I’ve been lucky enough to meet one of my local heroes.
This is Margaret, one of the early apple tree growers in our district. She and her husband had a very famous nursery that specialised in heritage apples, and they grew more than 500 varieties. Imagine that! Margaret has more knowledge about apple trees in her little finger than I will probably ever have. She also made a huge contribution to the preservation of heritage apple varieties in Australia. Sadly it got too much for them, many years ago now, and the collection was lost.
We’re now planning our own heritage apple orchard as part of our organic production on the farm and, luckily, she was happy to meet with me over a cuppa, share her experience and – best of all – give me permission to use some of their vast knowledge in the fruit tree database we’re slowly accumulating on our website. She also reluctantly agreed to have her photo taken and used in our social media, as she didn’t feel her story was at all worth telling!
One of the things I’ve realised doing the Farmers Markets Building Communities project is that my district, this state, and probably the whole of Australia (if not the world) is full of people just like Margaret. They’re the small producers, quietly going about producing food and food plants, preserving old ways while incorporating new methods and new technologies, sometimes running very modest businesses but bringing a tremendous amount of passion, knowledge and skill to their work and to their customers at the farmers markets, every single day.
Family farmers are this country’s unsung heroes, and I want to tell their stories. That’s why I’m doing this project.