Anna and Ben moved to the Southern Highlands to pursue a dream of growing more of their own food. It was the regions fertile soil, rainfall and close proximity to family that drew them from Melbourne 5 years ago, and they haven't looked back.
Their most recent venture involves growing vegetables for local families at Farm Club in Werai. Anna also runs the Farm Shop on the same premises which showcases their seasonal, locally grown produce, pickles and preserves.
Who is Apple Cart Produce and how did it came to be?
Apple Cart Produce is my husband Ben and I, and our two girls. We are market gardeners, growing organic vegetables and making pickles and preserves. We also manage a little Farm Shop on the farm we grow on. We have always grown our own food but after having kids and moving to Moss Vale, we decided to start our own business growing food for others. We love growing food so it feels like a natural progression for us. Prior to becoming market gardeners, Ben was an engineer and I worked in environmental management and training.
What is your business philosophy and how did it evolve?
We simply want to organically grow delicious and nutrient dense food for local families. We grow our own food and eat a diverse, seasonal diet, mostly made up of vegetables. We pickle and preserve some of our harvest through the seasons to see us through the cooler months when there is less on offer. This made sense to us and we have extended these principles to our business. This also allows our customers to have access to diverse, local organic vegetables throughout the seasons.
What do you see as the benefit of buying locally grown produce?
Taste, nutrient density and a connection to the food system are the benefits to the customer. Fresh local food just tastes better and is better for you. In supporting us, and other small producers like us, the customer and the producer are building a different food system. One where diversity, resilience, health and community are valued above profit alone.
What is the hardest thing about being a small-scale producer in the modern world?
I would have to say being taken seriously, as a viable business and life choice. Our current food system is so geared towards big business that the idea of small producers growing food for their local community on a smaller scale is still quite foreign. Many people think we are a bit mad or have told us there is no future or money in what we are doing. We have some amazing support from a community of people around us which enable us to do what we do.
Have your experiences growing food changed your families food culture at all?
We have grown our own food for a long time so it has always been a part of who we are. We have always supported local and small scale farmers also but I would say we do even more so now that we are small scale farmers. It is a hard slog, so I will always prioritise our families spending to support local producers.
Has your interest in farming had any influence on your or your families health?
Farming commercially is really an extension of how we have always tried to live and eat. The physical nature of farming sure beats sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day. We used to play sport and cycle but find these days we are getting so much incidental exercise we don't really need to anymore.
Do you have any advice for people who are interested in buying more local food?
Be adventurous and flexible with your food choices. Be prepared to buy, cook and eat with the seasons. The food tastes so much better and there is nothing sweeter than the first taste of a season; the first asparagus spear, the first tomato, the first raspberry, the first peach. Buying anything out of season (which has travelled long distances and been stored for a long time after harvest) means it won't taste as good and definitely won't have the nutrients it should.
Where do you see your business growing to in the future?
We really want to keep doing what we are doing, and get really good at growing awesome and diverse vegetables. We are focussing on getting smarter and more efficient at managing the land well, so we can grow more food for local families.