Returning to the family farm is never an easy task. It was never Katie Finlay’s intention to be a farmer. In fact it wasn’t until her own family farm was about to be sold that she decided that her place was really on the farm, her farm to be exact, Mt Alexander Fruit Gardens.
It must be a familiar somewhat uncomfortable story of the next generation moving back home. But whilst Katie’s story is like so many, she and her husband Hugh have managed to change the story line to create this story theirs.
Katie doesn’t look at the move to the family’s farm so much as going back but going to. When she and Hugh first moved to the farm it was a conventional orchard located in the beautiful rolling hills of Harcourt, about an hour and a half north of Melbourne. But things had changed she since was a girl: the community now not so vibrant, the familiar faces not so common. It seemed that many of the people she used to know locally had too moved on.
Katie and Hugh returned to Harcourt with a vision that they have been moving towards ever since. With Katie’s father as their knowledge centre, he has taught them everything they know about growing, running and keeping an orchard. And in turn, they gave this orchard new life through gaining organic certification, managing heirloom varieties and opening an educational arm to their business, Grow Great Fruit, to share their experiences.
It’s been quite a journey, but when you get to wonder between the trees on a crisp March morning the beauty is overwhelming and I get a small slice of understanding of Katie and Hugh’s motivations.
In the spirit of sharing their experiences and in the name of supporting our competition, Katie and Hugh have donated a double pass to an upcoming workshop and 3 bare rooted fruit trees to our Victorian winners.
Oh and if you happen to be visiting a farmers market in Castlemaine over the next few weeks you’ll get to enjoy these beautiful plums that featured to much in the photography … they are called Autumn Blush – so classy!