Forage. Farm. Food.

Hamlet And Fields Fiona May Serving Up Breakfast At The Paddock To Potager Stall

Fast forward a year, I had given up my career in child protection, had started a farm brand, Paddock to Potager; selling heritage bred chooks, fresh pastured raised pork and lamb. Along with raising two children, life was hectic, not to mention the house renovations and Stuart working fulltime in town!

Social media back then was just a new ‘thing’ but gave so much insight into what I wanted to learn. What I wanted to do with the farm wasn’t something you could read in books at the time, nor was it really something offered, really, well, anywhere. I connected with mentors from Victoria; Barham, Gippsland and Daylesford. They were doing things I thought had purpose, meaning and authenticity.

I was like a sponge; asking questions from my mentors and locals, learning through doing and felt a deep connection to the way my little farm was allowing me to learn about country life I hadn’t even thought about. The farm was teaching me so much more about where my food come from – it was like a light bulb had come on.

I know that sounds really silly, I mean we all know milk comes from a cow, right? Not the supermarket  – or do we? This is what I began to discover. As I dove in deeper, I came to the realization that not many adults, nor children knew the process of how our food and products came from the paddock to the plate. And how people had grown food for years, all over the world yet we had become so disconnected to the story behind our food.

From there, it’s like I made my small plot a way to further educate myself and others. I shared pictures on socials, my thoughts through blogs, newspaper and radio interviews – even the TV. It’s only when I began to open my farm for after school farmhouse classes and host educational tours, from talking to people from a consumer point of view, I realized there wasn’t much knowledge that surrounded our food choices at all.

Not only did I use my on-farm events as a soapbox and a way to change the communities’ mindsets about food, it too started to create a demand where people wanted to make better, more ethical choices for their families but didn’t know where to source it from.

I collaborated with passionate local producers and opened my farm gate to the first genuine farmers’ market in Toowoomba. The market was sold out by 10am, we had 65 stallholders, music, demos, talks, tours, for almost 5000 patrons to enjoy. That’s right, there were families, couples, individuals and groups, people of all walks of life who told me they had an interest in supporting local, and curiosity in food origin.

After 2 years of directing an Agri tourism operation and managing the weekly genuine farmers’ market, which together involved TV personalities, guest chefs, animal nurseries, maker and baker demonstrations, day and night events, producing pork and managing staff, it was time to take a break. The Toowoomba Farmers’ Market still runs at Cobb and Co in Toowoomba and I smile knowing I had something to do with its inception.