Sprout Small Producer of the Year 2016 - Alex Taylor, Golden Valley Farm
It has been 10 months since Alex Taylor from Golden Valley Farm received the inaugural Sprout Small Producer of the Year award at the Cross Pollinate Conference, 2016. We caught up with him before he disappears for a month long holiday in the UK.
"Thing are going well, it's busy preparing for our break, but we only have a few more farm gate weeks left", said Alex. "I must admit that earlier this year, I was finding I was busier than ever, when I was actually trying to be less busy. I found that I wasn't enjoying getting up in the morning to do a job that I loved, and that was a sign that something needed to change."
Alex talked about how, out of the eight or so people he knew of that started farming when he did, there are not many of them still doing it, and that's because it is hard. Sometimes harder than people think. Alex reflects on the reasons he began life on their farm in Cygnet on Golden Valley Road; he wanted to live as simply as possible and do something that did not damage the biosphere, and something that would help to create a resilient community.
"Once I found the confidence to say 'no' to someone, to the pressure to grow my business, I have managed to farm more efficiently, not necessarily scaling back, but choosing the customers I sell my produce to (not markets as much, as I needed my weekends back) through our farm gate, veggie box organisations and restaurants too."
At Sprout, we see many producers in the same position as Alex; making great progress on farm, but working very, very hard and finding that their work life balance is heavily weighted towards the 'work' end of the scale, and sometimes even resenting life on the farm. It is a hard balance to strike it seems, and Alex said that after time for reflection, breathing out and taking the time to look around, he wants to focus more on moving with the seasons. Not just on the farm, but in life.
Thanks Alex for sharing so candidly your journey on farm, and if anyone reading this feels like they need some support, please touch base with us here at Sprout. We love to support our small Tassie producers, so give us a call or drop us an email.
Sprout will be announcing the call for nominations soon, for the 2017 Sprout Small Producer of the Year, so watch out on our website and Facebook page for more information.
The award will be presented by Alex at our 2017 Cross Pollinate conference in November!
Many producers that we talk to are keen to bring people onto their farm to take part in an experience - whatever that may look like. For many of you, the idea attractive but the detail and execution of it it seems a little overwhelming.
Sprout is really excited to have met and connected with Anna Yip from Off the Table, which is a "choose your own" culinary experience adventure, where foodies can discover the hidden treasures of local producers around Tasmania and really connect with where the produce is grown and farmed. We see this as a perfect match for those of you who want to engage with the community, bring them onto your farm, but in a way that works for you and your business, without the massive outlay of marketing, communications etc.
Free on farm support to Sprout Producers
We have an awesome opportunity for any Sprout Seed members to take advantage, who is located in the Southern Trove region in Tassie. Anna Yip and the team at Off the Table have been super busy over the last few months, and they are ready to run the first Off the Table pilot weekend. They have selected the region of Southern Trove for this pilot.
Anna, who is an experienced service design consultant, is keen to work with Sprout Seed Members to map out a customer experience on your property, giving up to 4 hours of her expert advice to guide you through everything from designing your experience, to costing, insurance and execution. This experience would then be listed as part of the Off the Table Southern Trove trial.
Get on board!
We would love to hear what you think of this concept, as we feel it really supports small producers in a way that no other organisation has been able to in this space.
If you are keen to talk more to Anna about what being a part of this trial might look like for you - please contact her directly via [email protected], call directly on 0466 627 947 or go to the website to find out more.
If you have questions, you can also touch base with Jennifer Robinson, our GM, via the usual phone and email details.