Sydneysiders might recognise Tobias Bland as a familiar face from Carriageworks Markets. His farm Kurrawong Organics grows brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts for many of NSW’s organic outlets. You might not have heard the name, but if you like buying organic veggies, there’s a good chance you’ve already eaten food from Kurrawong.
We had a chat to Tobias about the joys and challenges of feeding Sydney.
What is Kurrawong Organics?
Kurrawong Organics is a family owned organic vegetable farm based 180km west of Sydney.
What do you produce on your farm?
Mainly brassicas on large scale, including broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, for farmers markets and small orders. We also do almost everything else, so long as it’s not tropical.
What is the experience like working with your family?
It’s hard work but it’s rewarding and it’s nice to get your hands dirty. You feel as though you’re really contributing as you can watch a plant grow from seed to its final destination on a dinner plate..
Who accesses/ uses your produce? Where do you sell your produce?
We sell the bulk of our product to organic distributors based in Sydney and Brisbane but we also sell direct from the farm to the customer at farmers markets in Sydney, including Eveleigh Market and Taylor square Markets.
What’s in season at the moment?
We’ve just started our season with brocolli and cauliflower being our biggest crops but we will start to see a larger variety of vegetables here on the farm as it gets warmer.
How long has Kurrawong Organics been operating for?
Kurrawong Organics as brand has only been operating since the mix 1990s but our family has been farming as early as 1912.
How did you get involved in organic farming?
Through necessity as we wouldn’t have survived as a conventional farm mainly due to our size. And of course it was also an opportunity for us to change the way we grew produce , to be more sustainable and generally grow a better product.
What have been the biggest challenges running an organic farm?
Three things. Overseas competition, high prices for organic fertilisers and the amount of manual labour and attention that goes into growing organic food.
What does a usual day look like?
Harvesting in the morning when it’s cooler, planting all day long because it takes that long, irrigating all day long because the plants constantly need it, packing and sending in the afternoon/evening, discing, top dressing, fertilising, harrowing, fixing pumps/tractors/trucks and the list goes on- there is always stuff to do!
What has been your favourite moment on the farm? What do you love about your job?
Just being outside. The office is for some but not for me. Also, there’s no traffic, the clean air, you can swim in the dam after a long day and you get the reward of growing great quality produce.
Image credit: Kurrawong Organics