“When we planted the trees along the driveway I was six months pregnant with my first child, Nick. As they grow, so does he.
We’ve had the farm for 14 years. If you get rain before ANZAC Day it’s OK. Our dam is low. Fortunately, we rely on town water for our animals, but we’re careful to make sure we’re not overloaded with stock – as much for the benefit of the animals as well as the land.
We want to create a connection between the city and country so we have the Paddock to Plate concept: the paddock is here, and the plate is at our café. It’s about getting people to understand where their food comes from, connecting with their food growers – the farmers – and with nature.
But the be-all-end-all is teaching the next generation to grow their own.
My mind goes 100 miles an hour on how that happens. I will talk you to sleep on this topic. It’s what my family live and breathe.
Being here slows me down and allows me to focus on what really matters.
I’m a bit of a fuss-pot gardener. I like it to look ordered.
The kids love to make the planter boxes. It’s important for them to do it. Jack helped me build some at age 4. He told me we had to harvest the tomatoes and it hit me that he was taking responsibility, as well as understanding the life cycle of his food – more importantly, he understood where his food came from.
You stick in a seed, you watch it, care for it, it grows, and it’s that easy.
We don’t use any chemicals. If you’re prepared to put it into your children, you want it to be chemical free.
One way of growing food that we’re trialling is a Food Forest which uses companion planting. An example would be if you plant borage near strawberries, you get the fattest, juiciest strawberries! As humans, we tend to get in the way of this natural order – the plants are meant to just grow and do their thing. When the leaves from your trees drop, there’s your mulch.
My hardest lesson to learn is to accept weeds as my friend, not my foe.
I’m allergic to botanical names – I use common names. We discovered we could successfully grow eggplant. Last week I took in 30kgs from the tomato crop for the restaurant – that felt awesome.
We find when we’re so busy in the café it’s great to get back here. When we arrive, we open the gate, come in and close it, leaving the big bad world behind us and head towards the farm.
This for us is our sacred site that we’ll hand onto our kids.”
Clare Voitin and her husband John own and operate Scarvelli Café in Balwyn, Victoria.