About our farm
Organic Mixed Berries
Who We Are
In 2014 Claire and Pete made the (very easy) decision to move from the bustling metropolis of Geelong and head to the green hills of the Hepburn Region.
After six months of living in Dayelsford we were in love with area and started to look for somewhere to permanently call home, eventually landing on 25 acres in Eganstown.
Pete is an accountant with experience in manufacturing and operations, while Claire has an environmental science degree. With complementary skill sets we have been able to bring Claire’s vision and environmental knowledge together with Pete’s determination and financial acumen to tackle each and every challenge we face.
After Pete spent 2016/17 setting up our large scale trials (large to us) we have been constantly learning about growing a range of berries on a commercial scale and along the way had the opportunity to learn from and work with some amazing people.
Now after a few years of ‘trials’ its time to scale up!
with not a lot of know how but a lot of enthusiasm we ploughed 2 acres of our block, spread out some dolomite and then threw out whatever seeds we could find. These did ok and were ‘chopped and dropped’ over summer to start the much needed soil improvement journey.
In and around this we were settling into the weather patterns of a new area, planting out our garden spaces and getting stuck into an enormous veggie patch and our small scale berry trials that will become our home patch. We planted a few varieties of blueberry and strawberry plus raspberries, boysenberries and mulberries throughout our gardens and orchard. With these plants doing amazing (for the most part) we started the planning for Morningswood farm.
The year started with orders for plants being placed, monthly plans being written and Pete finishing up full time work as an accountant! With no experience in farming past the numbers we decided to learn as much as we could by testing everything we do; from plant suppliers and cultivars to bed preparation and watering systems we have attempted to compare at least two solutions at each point.
We have used more than seventy tons of manure across our 1,500m of beds to trial more than twenty varieties of blueberry, two varieties of strawberry and a wide range of brambles from three plant suppliers. We have prepared seven beds of strawberries each different to the next, but both with San Andreas/Albion planted out. We have trialled some blueberry rows with green crops and others with longer rest times and we are testing different trellis methods for our brambles all in an attempt to fast track our learning. We believe that you learn by getting out and making mistakes, so we are learning lots at the moment!
The learning curve has been steep and the investment large, but the opportunity to trial such a wide range of methods and inputs has already paid off: How far we have come!
How We Farm
We are not certified organic, however we strive to implement organic if not regenerative practices through the vast majority of our processes.
No fungi, herbi or pesti-cides have been used by us at our farm and we don’t plan to start anytime soon. We use a range of manures and liquid fertilisers (worm wee and fish emulsion, seaweed) to nourish our soil plus blood and bone and certified organic rock dust to balance it.
We practice crop rotation, use both local and introduced beneficial insects to mange pests and disease and strive to get water sinking down not running off at every opportunity.
We have also committed some 15-20 acres to native regeneration, with long term plans of grandeur and short term weed mangement with goats and the flail mower.
Where we can, we source certified organic seedlings/plants
we continued our learning, slightly reducing the size of our strawberry patch to reflect our water availability and allow us to focus the learning on bramble berries. We planted out an additional 1,000 strawberries to supplement the existing 1,000 we left planted from last year, focused on pruning, feeding programs and a more pro-active approach to pest and weed management.
Our strawberries were a great success with a number of ‘fancy’ local restaurants such as Lake House & De Femur featuring them on the menu, not to mention our loyal locals purchasing through Daylesford Health-foods and the Daylesford Food Co-op. Our bramble berries fruited for the fist time and gave us a taste of the delicious variety of flavors present across the 15 cultivars in our rows.
We also got to learn lots about water laws and regulations with Pete returning to work full time to enable us to save the $30,000 investment for a bore and associated water rights and licences, slowing down our expansion and teaching us what a long day of work truly is!
we ended our water journey, one that we through would be about saving and spending but was more about navigation, learning and detective work to find water rights! It took until December to have it all done and dusted, but that gave us time to welcome our Daughter Amelia to the farm, and put all the planning in place to start getting things ready for 2020 U-Pick!
We still have lots to prepare and even more to learn but we are excited for whats coming!
Keep up with whats happening and check out the progress on our Instagram