Kat is preparing for the next progression in her transformation from a “Fly In Fly Out” worker on the boats that serviced vessels building wharves off the coast of Western Australia to a vegetable grower in Eurobodalla. She has recently agreed a land share arrangement that will allow expansion of her current garden (of about 400 sq metres) to a more commercial 1.5 acres.
Walking through her current garden on a crisp winter’s morning on the flats next to the Deua River is about as far as can be imagined from the red dirt of Port Headland. In the garden there are rows of cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, purple cabbage, carrots, fennel, lettuce, leeks, spring onion, beetroot, and silver beet. These are inter-planted with quick crops like rocket, coriander and radish. The skills she has learnt as a SAGE Market Gardener Intern and a “greenhorn” grower are on display.
Kat says it has been a life changing experience for to be the second SAGE intern. As she says “there was no plan B”. Kat has also started a value adding business specialising in cold pressed juices. She has invested in a commercial cold pressed juicer and uses a local commercial kitchen for their preparation and bottling.
Kat is also managing the vegetable garden beds at Gundary Store, ensuring that salad vegetables and herbs for the café are always there for the picking.
Diversification is the key to viability when you are starting out, but as Kat points out, it’s also about focus. She continues to get help and advice from her fellow growers at the SAGE Farmers Market. The kinship of local growers acts more like a support network than a group of competitors in a limited marketplace.
Kat’s journey from deckhand to vegetable grower continues to amaze, and she is able to chart her course to becoming a professional grower with increasing clarity.