Living the dream on the land By Andrea Kellett

MPM March 2018A19V0638.JPG

Rachael Koch, and her husband Matt, both 28, are Peninsula farmers. Juggling the demands of being new parents, this is a young couple working hard to build a life on the land.

Inspired by this month’s Women on Farms Gathering, which is being held on the Peninsula for the first time since the event started 29 years ago, Mornington Peninsula Magazine spoke to Rachael about all things farming. She and Matt are both Peninsula born and bred and are the founders of Heritage Farm, a new farm in Moorooduc that’s pushing the boundaries of traditional agriculture.

For a start, being a female farmer is not, Rachael says, unusual. “There aren’t many couples on the land where the woman isn’t a farmer too.” What is, she explains, is what she and Matt are doing with their 8ha – sustainable, ethical food production.

“Ours is a different style of agriculture; it’s a bit unusual. The idea is to have an integrated farm where everything is multi-purpose, everything works together. We’re in the process of filling in the paperwork to be certified organic.”

Rachael and Matt bought their land 18 months ago and have been farming it for 12 months. Right now they are selling free-range chicken and duck eggs; they have a sheep breeding program, a couple of dairy calves, geese and alpacas that “look cute but aren’t very productive”. They also travelled widely to collect the trees for their heritage fruit orchard. Four-month-old Kingsley is very much a part of the journey too, often sleeping in a wrap with Mum as she works on the farm.

Rachael admits farming is much harder than she imagined as a 10-year-old girl daydreaming of living off the land. “Ten-year-old me had no idea how much work it would be. But I think she’d be pretty happy with what we’re doing.”

The Women on Farms Gathering recognises the isolation women sometimes face in farming regions. It aims to connect women on the land and enable the sharing of ideas, information and support. Rachael readily admits her connections with like-minded female farmers, both online and offline, are invaluable. “Everyone down here is so willing to help. The Peninsula is full of people on the same page, and the online community is so important as well.”

The 29th Women on Farms Gathering will be held at the Rosebud Memorial Hall and surrounds from Friday, March 16, to Sunday, March 18. It includes workshops, tours, a gala dinner, a breakfast and speakers. There’s also a Q&A panel session on our region’s provenance brand Mornington Peninsula Produce. Register at wofg2018.com

For more on Heritage Farm, including tour information, and farm gate hours, visit heritagefarm.com.au