When it comes to the Ipswich Good Food Group’s commitment to supporting local farmers, it doesn’t get much more ‘local’ than Karalee’s Nature Cycle Farm. Just 20 minutes from town, this family owned and operated urban farm provides us with fresh nutritious salad greens (their radishes and edible flowers are super tasty too) every week.
Recently, owner/operators Josh and Jamie kindly hosted a couple of hungry IGFG volunteers for a tour, a chat and a cuppa.
Have you always grown food?/ How did you get started?
I didn't start growing food until I was 23, I hadn't really grown up with an agricultural background but had grown up in rural areas where agriculture is a main backbone of the community such as Mossman, North Queensland and Charters Towers in Central Queensland. I had always wanted to be a farmer but had been warned of the hardships and unreliable nature of the short-term turnovers within the industry so it wasn't until my partner Jamie got pregnant and had a few complications that these thoughts really became a grounded ideology.
What motivated you to create Nature Cycle Farm?
As Jamie and I started to discuss our future as a family, and the task of raising a child amongst the various pressures and predicaments that are affecting the environment we live in, the philosophy of trying to provide an ethical service to the wider community while being able to regenerate our wider environment became a strong motivation. As the realisations of equity, time and labour all sank in and the opportunity to rent Jamie’s parents’ family home and utilise the lawn space arose, it became a tangible foundation.
What do you grow? What's growing right now in your garden?
For the wider community we focus on salads, herbs and edible flowers. Right now we have around 45 different edible crops in the ground ranging from lettuce cultivars, Asian green varieties, kales, French and English greens, to a range of herbs and edible flowers. We have just finished planting out our native forage garden which has 85 edible or useable native plants so I am very much looking forward to that growing in.
IGFG specialises in local produce with a strong focus on community resilience. Tell us how this fits with your approach at Nature Cycle Farm?
Our approach is exactly as our philosophy entails - Local, Sustainable, Fresh. We believe that food production has gotten a little out of hand and with the constant rise of consumerism and wealth, the ideology of being able to have something whenever you want it has become ingrained.
By being local you have a direct relationship to the local climate, geology and ecosystem which facilitates a growing knowledge of what is and isn't feasible for a local community. It allows you to be in direct contact with the local community and vice versa. There is always a value in the honesty that this provides on both ends and it allows a platform for continuing growth through actual human communication i.e. face to face conversations.
Fresh produce to me means it is picked that day. Every harvest since we began has been harvested and delivered within 24hrs and this drives a philosophy of providing our produce to the people who are our wider neighbours.
Our relationship with IGFG has been one where I have been able to cement a commitment to what I believe is the reality of food - that healthy high quality produce should be accessible in the local community, should be grown by locals and should not have to travel 2500km to be on your plate.
What is your biggest challenge as a small scale grower/market gardener?
I don't think they are too dissimilar from the same challenges that any individual, family or business faces when you are trying to balance ethics, equity and longevity. My main challenges are trying to find the right balance between time, labour and equity in a highly diverse and dynamic market while trying to provide an ethical product to my wider community.
What is the most rewarding part of operating Nature Cycle?
The deeper satisfaction for my individual position through what I am able to provide for my family and wider community and what we as a collective are building for our future environment through conscientious choices.
Contact Nature Cycle
Interview by Dave Smith with Josh Bennett-Jones from Nature Cycle
Photography: Emma Harm/Tangible Media