I’m at home sitting over the heater looking at the weather forecast – if ever there was a time to appreciate farmers then this is the week. And some of the farmers who do it toughest at times like this are the market gardeners (sorry dairy farmers – next time I promise). I rang Shelley Heppell from Green Gully Organics (that’s her and husband Craig a couple of summers back) in Macclesfield out the back of Mt Dandenong to see how her week looked. First Shelley told me how their road had washed out opening up a deep pothole which she had driven through puncturing two tyres in her van. I immediately imagined cold skinned knuckles changing flats in the rain. Ouch!Rug up, this is Shelley and Craig’s week ahead – by the way they’re expecting it to sleet.Sunday (2-11C rain). This morning in all their wet weather gear, Craig and Shelley, along with two hired workers and their daughters Chloe (13) and Bella (10) picked produce for today’s Flemington Farmers Market and tomorrow’s wholesale market. After harvesting they soaked frozen hands in a bucket of hot water to get their fingers going again to do the bunching up. Shelley was laughing that she couldn’t feel her left hand most of this morning.
Today at the Flemington market Shelley said their customers were really appreciative the Heppells made the effort to come in despite the weather.
Monday and Tuesday (6-11C heavy showers). Back in the fields harvesting for veggie boxes and Fair Food. Shelley says that when the weather is like this pulling leeks is especially hard, clinging to the roots of each leek seems to be about 5kgs of mud which has to be knocked off and then washed. With a another kilo of mud building up on each gumboot, getting around the field is interesting and sometimes downright comical.
Wednesday (2-10C showers). More harvesting as well as packing and delivering their veggie box orders, dropping off to Fair Food and the wholesale market. At the moment the Heppell’s have got silverbeet and rainbow chard, kale, leeks, beets, brussels sprouts, fennel and pak choi – there’s no lettuce or salad mix at the moment because all the leaves are completely frozen.
Thursday(1-12C showers) is sort of the end of their week and because it’s too wet there’s no planting to do, so it’s time to catch up on things at home and around the farm.On Friday (1-12C showers) it’s back in the field to harvest for Saturday’s farmers market in Hawthorn. Shelley says this time of year her pickers warm up at lunchtime down at the local bakery but in this weather only a hot shower brings you back to life.Saturday (4-12C showers) up early to pack and go to Hawthorn Farmers Market for the day then home to unpack the truck and get ready to do it all over again.
I ask Shelley what she thinks about this time of year and she says, “It’s good soup weather.”
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