Situated 5.7km north west of Moruya town, on a 40-acre hillside property, Ernie and his partner Carmel are realising part of a dream that they started ten years ago.
Ernie started his professional life as an accountant. After meeting a local grower who told him that he finds time to surf regularly, Ernie decided on a career change. He started out small, selling fruit and veggies from a cart at the Lake Coila service station, supplying the locals and tourists with seasonal locally grown produce and then later supplementing with other produce from the Sydney Market. When the Saturday Moruya Country Market moved to Riverside Park, Ernie eventually moved his operation there.
This year the SAGE Farmers Market started and is now Ernie’s favourite market. He proudly sells a large variety of his own produce that he grows using conventional, natural and hydroponic methods (both outside and inside greenhouses), and free-range eggs from his 300 hens.
A section of the outdoor netted garden
We love bees!
Around 300 egg-laying chickens range freely
The first of three hothouses
This is the most recent hothouse Ernie has built
Ernie is perfecting the wicking bed design for more beds to come
Eggplant ripening indoors in winter
Ernie likes to grow different varieties too
Tomatoes grown in soil indoors in winter
Tomato and capsicum plants grown in soil indoors
The first hothouse Ernie built grows food hydroponically
Cucumbers are grown hydroponically in the 2nd hothouse
Outdoor hydroponically grown lettuces
Occasional fruit trees dot the property
More outdoor hydroponically grown lettuces behind the hothouse
The view to the west from the top of Ernie's block
The SAGE Farmers Market has also motivated Ernie to take his one hectare farm further. He is enjoying the challenge of constantly developing his operation to meet the demands of his customers — wanting to offer early harvest, extending the season of his produce and supplying something different from the other growers at the market.
His philosophy is to seize opportunities, think laterally, do good work and good things will happen. Right now he sees himself as a builder for a while — building a farm, its infrastructure, garden beds, green houses, wicking beds, sheds, a chook pen, a living and a future for generations to eat locally grown food.
Ernie occasionally finds the time to have that surf.