If we haven’t met before – hi, and welcome to our organic farm!
We’re Hugh and Katie Finlay, and we help people to grow their own organic fruit with our Grow Great Fruit system.
Teaching fruit growing is definitely our passion project, but that’s not all we do. No doubt like many of you reading this, we have our fingers in many pies.
We grow and sell fruit trees from Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery and help to run the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op on our farm. Hugh also works part time with an international aid organisation. We have various roles in the community, and Hugh is a keen member of the local SES.
Our life is full to the brim, but there’s one theme running through most of our lives, and that’s food. Growing it, eating it, and helping other people to grow organic, nutrient-dense food.
Empowering people to grow organic food
We enable young farmers to be able to grow organic food by giving them access to lease parts of our farm through the Harcourt Organic Farming Coop (HOFC).
It’s super satisfying. The members of HOFC grow a significant amount of organic dairy, vegies, and fruit. Nearly all of it goes directly to feeding families in our local area.
We also offer occasional skills workshops either on-farm or at local venues. (Click on the green button at the bottom of this blog to join our newsletter list if you’re interested in hearing about workshops).
But both of these activities are limited to people who can physically access the farm. It’s fantastic to be able to connect with our local community, but it’s not enough.
We want to be able to empower people to grow their own food no matter where they live!
That’s where technology comes in.
Connecting our organic farm to you with technology
One of the fantastic things about technology (when it’s used for the forces of good) is that it lets us connect easily with you.
As farmers and teachers, we’re really interested in making stronger connections between what we do, and the people who want to grow their own food.
But we need to do it in a way that fits in with our farming and teaching work.
So being able to blog and get on the socials while we’re at work on the farm lets us form a dynamic, close link with anyone who wants to learn more about self sufficiency.
It means that even if you can’t get to the farm, we can bring the farm to you.
Meet the rest of our farm crew
Having our own organic orchard and farm is what makes Grow Great Fruit possible. But we couldn’t do it alone. These days, we’re part of a big community.
First up, the Orchard Keepers Collective is the team who runs the orchard on the farm.
We’re still here for them on the farm in the background, offering skills and mentoring when we’re needed. But this hard working team is out in the weather doing the hard yards.
The orchard team has started a successful Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme which supplies up to 80 local families, with the rest of the fruit being sold at markets.
Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery
The nursery team is very much a family affair.
Katie, her sister Liz, and their dad Merv (known by pretty much everyone as Pa) grow about 1,000 fruit trees every year.
They mostly stick to old-fashioned and heritage varieties (many of which are also grown in the orchards on the farm) and sell them mainly to people in the local area.
Tess Sellar uses most of the paddocks on the farm to run her 10-cow micro-dairy. She moves the cows every couple of days. They even rotate through the orchards during some times of the year.
Tess milks once a day, then processes the milk and makes yoghurt in the factory she and her partner Oli built in a container on the farm. It all goes to Tessa’s CSA customers and local market shoppers.
The dairy is slowly building a team of part-time helpers who learning the ropes so Tess gets the odd day off!
The market garden
Mel and her team of employees and volunteers grow a huge range of vegies, herbs, and flowers in the Gung Hoe Growers market garden.
They supply the weekly farmers market, lots of local restaurants, and weekly boxes for their lucky CSA members.
Grow Great Fruit
You’ve already met us (Katie and Hugh), but there’s more to the team!
Meg is the quiet whiz behind the scenes who helps us keep the socials lively and interesting. She also helps out with answering comments on the blogs, as well as lots of other behind-the-scenes usefulness.
And if you’re thinking she looks familiar (and wondering why she’s in the cherry picker), that’s because she’s also a member of the Orchard Keepers Collective!
The bush food patch
Ira (below) grows a range of native food plants in the bush food patch. Ira is mentored by local elders who share their food growing knowledge, and Mel from Gung Hoe Growers who shares her market garden knowhow.
In turn, Ira welcomes young indigenous folk to the patch and introduces them to growing traditional foods.
It’s an exciting project that is slowly maturing and expanding to grow more different types of native foods.
Ira is connected with local catering group the Murrnong Mamas, who use the food in their menus.
The non-human farm team
Meet our constant farm buddies – the dogs. Oscar (on the right) has moved on to the big kennel in the sky since this photo was taken, but we still think of him often.
They love us, we love them, and they provide us with endless entertainment, but useful? Not so much. This is their typical attitude…
The chickens are much more useful farm workers. John is the rooster, who looks out for his flock of girls.
This is John VII (roughly – we don’t actually keep count). We’ve been through many roosters over the years. They’re always white, and they’re always called John.
Why? No-one can remember, it’s lost in the mists of time.
The flock is responsible for egg production and keeping the pests around the garden under control. They also contribute vital nutrition to the vegie garden.
So, that’s the core team.
Many other people are also connected to our organic farm. Family, workers, volunteers, visitors, students, and customers are all part of the community.
We love it and feel that we get the best of both worlds.
We’re part of a busy, active community here on the farm, and we also get to connect with you, our keen gardening family, no matter where in the world you are.
So, welcome to the joyous, interesting, diverse, sometimes frustrating, and at times sort of dull world of a small organic farm in rural Australia.
Thank you for being here! We hope you enjoy the ride with us.
A visit to Petty’s Heritage Apple Orchard
Petty’s Orchard in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs houses a working organic farm and one of Victoria’s best heritage apple collections.
The subtropical fruit tree experts
Sub-tropical fruit trees include dozens of exotic and interesting varieties that can expand the diversity in your garden.
How to Make Pink Lady Apples Pink
Sometimes pink lady apples are dark pink, sometimes light pink, from the same tree. We explain the reasons behind this mysterious occurrence.
Difficult to believe that things could ever be dull at your place, Katie. You and Hugh are always so busy! Good on you getting the blog going. We hope it helps people understand the pleasures and frustrations of making a living getting food from “paddock to plate”. Looking forward to the ride!