I dropped in last week to have a chat with Travis who is a local farmer at the Peace Farm. As I drove in it was so lovely to see all his veggies growing in the paddocks. The Peace Farm is a small permaculture farm located in Yarra Junction in the beautiful Yarra Valley. They really have created a real farm feel at the Peace Farm.
Around 10 years ago Travis started dreaming about working on the land and becoming a farmer. He had read about a particular model of farming called Community Support Agriculture which immediately struck a chord with him. It is based around the idea of having a bond between the customer and the farmer. The customer supports the farmer and pays a season ahead which helps the farmer work their land and prepare for planting the seasons crop.
Travis decided to follow his dream and initially started farming in 2011 in Yarra Glen. Travis and his partner Emilie were also involved in an Eco project in Brunswick at the time. Travis and Emilie met a lady called Vicki while working on the project. Through the connection they made with Vicki they ended up meeting Vicki’s husband Murray and Matt and Catt. The three families connected and end up forming what is known today as the Peace Farm.
In 2013 Matt and Catt purchased the property in Yarra Junction and from there the Peace Farm was born. The Peace Farm stands for (Permaculture Education Arts Community Enterprise). The Peace Farm is a cooperation of three families living and working together on the farm. They have all used their skills and experience to create a vibrant and dynamic farm.
The Peace farm has a variety of enterprises including an organic heirloom plant nursery, a market garden and a wellness centre with various types of yoga, meditation, acupuncture and shamanic work. They also offer retreats and community/environmental activities including small scale educational gardens for people of all ages. “Everyone had their own vision and it all just come together” Travis said.
As part of Travis and Emilie’s Market Garden they offer veggie boxes. The veggie box scheme has been running for the past 6 years. The season runs from Summer through to winter. Travis grows all of his veggies from seed. Sowing the seeds starts in August for the summer veggies. Garlic is planted in April. The veggie seedlings are put into the ground in October and around mid to late November some of the crop is ready to be harvested. This is very much dependent on the weather of course.
Although their produce is not certified organic they feel their farming methods are as close to organic as you can possible get without the certification process. They grow their veggies with no chemicals and their emphasis is on soil health which they believe produces nutrient dense vegetables which taste better and are better for you.
Emilie has also started growing medicinal flowers and herbs which are being integrated with the market gardens as part of their pest control management. Emilie’s main passion is Shamanic Womancraft, supporting women in pre and post birth and she also runs medicinal drum making workshops and women’s circles.
The veggie box scheme has around 35-40 members that commit to a veggie box each week. Travis has found the idea of paying the farmer a season ahead was not viable for most people so members pay each week for their veggie boxes. The boxes of veggies are a mix of veggies that Travis grows on the farm and organic veggies he sources at the wholesale markets in Epping. Travis also prioritises local first. If he can find a local grower that he feels follows his farming principals then he will buy from them first.
Travis has also set up a preference system which allows members to tailor their own veggie boxes. If you don’t like a particular vegetable or you like a lot of, say salad, then this information is written on your box. Travis feels it offers their members more flexibility and also avoids wastage.
Travis feels their has been a disconnection with our food and where it comes from and for this reason he encourages members to participate in the planting and growing of their own veggies. Travis finds members get a lot of satisfaction helping grow their own veggies. The veggie box scheme is a dynamic model that encourages participation and community engagement.
The veggies boxes are available every Tuesday afternoon from Dec-May. The veggies from the farm are picked Monday night and Tuesday morning so that they are super fresh, straight from the farm. They are topped up with local produce and organic veggies from the wholesale market. Any surplus veggies will be advertised on their website the Peace farm under Farm Shop. You are not required to be a member to purchase surplus veggies. If you would like to become a member of Peace Farm Produce please contact Travis via their website Peace Farm.
Travis and Emilie are also in the process of creating a new shop at the Peace Farm called ‘The Farm Shop’. The idea behind The Farm Shop is to offer more organic whole foods to the community. They already have an established community and would like to offer more goods to their members and to the community.
The Farm Shop’s goal is to stock essential wholefoods in bulk. They will be focusing on providing basic dry goods that allows you to make your own muesli, bread and even cleaning products without all the packaging.
The Farm Shop will encourage community participation. Memberships will be $30.00 a year. If you become an active member it will allow you to access discounts on dry goods. As part of being a member you will put on a rooster to help out at the shop. You will still be able to purchase from The Farm Shop without being a member.
The Farm Shop will also sell some fruit and veggies and Cathederal Valley Honey. Travis would like to team up with the local Bee Group so bee keepers can sell their surplus honey in their shop. Travis’s vision for The Farm Shop is to become a market place which allows farmers and bee keepers to sell their local produce. It really will be a wonderful local initiative that provides the community with an opportunity to purchase organic bulk goods at a reasonable price and to support local community farmers.
The Farm Shop is not yet open to the public but Travis and Emilie hope to be open in the New Year. If you are interested in becoming a member of The Farm Shop then please contact Travis at the Peace Farm. The Peace Farm is located at 60 Settlement Rd, Yarra Junction VIC 3797.
Travis and Emelie’s main goal is to make organic food accessible to everyone. They source out the best produce and try and buy local organic where possible. They very much encourage and welcome community participation in their business. It is a very community orientated and dynamic local farm and is well worth a visit.