Christie is a former economist who quit the city to live more sustainably, for the environment and for herself. Originally a mainlander, she feels lucky to be able to call Tasmania home. In this chapter of life she wants to contribute more concretely to issues that she cares about, like sustainable food systems, and the farm helps her to do this.
Christie created Old Orchard Farm with her husband, Alex, and support from their corgi, Ebbi. Christie brings attention to detail and Alex brings a drive for efficiency and innovation. The most useful skill from their former lives was the ability to make a crop plan in Excel. But together they have enjoyed learning practical skills like fence building as well as revisiting high school science to better understand soil. They love watching the results of their efforts over time.
Their goal is supply their local community with healthy, sustainably grown food and increase biodiversity on their property. They see themselves as part of a global movement toward small-scale market gardening following regenerative practices. Along the way they hope to inspire people to eat a wider range of vegetables and to think about where their food comes from.
Old Orchard Farm is a small-scale sustainable market garden in the Huon Valley. On what was a paddock in 2019, stands a wallaby-proof fence protecting a 1300m2 market garden with a range of vegetables and herbs and a polytunnel. Around the edges of the garden is a border of fruit trees, perennial herbs, edible flowers and native plants to provide food and habitat for birds and beneficial insects as well as food for humans.
In 2022 their produce will be available locally in weekly vegetable boxes. There will always be interesting lettuce varieties – never iceberg! – and a selection of seasonal staples like spinach, rainbow chard, tomatoes and beans. Boxes will also include some vegetables that are less common but flavoursome and easy to prepare. Produce will also be available at Arte-Zans in Geeveston, which supported the farm from the beginning. The farm also supplies a few local chefs with salad greens and herbs.
At Old Orchard Farm sustainable means building soil health and biodiversity are priorities. They draw on permaculture, no-dig and organic practices to do this. They don’t use chemical sprays, relying instead on creating healthy plants and an ecosystem that counters pest pressure. The garden beds were built by laying newspaper and cardboard on the paddock and topping this with compost for the beds and woodchips for the pathways. They make some of their own compost from local waste products and manure from friends’ cows that sometimes visit the property. Vegetables are almost entirely grown from open-pollinated seeds that are mostly from Tasmania and organic where possible.
In the near term, a planned greenhouse will help with winter growing and a holiday cabin will provide visitors with a chance to prepare a meal fresh from the garden after a day touring around the Huon Valley.