Leaving behind the fast-paced city for life in the country isn’t necessarily all about lying around in hammocks, sipping wine and smelling the roses.
Although one might imagine recent tree-changer and the new owner of Yass River’s Nemori Flower Farm, Pip Gorton, spending more time among flowers than most.
Her only regret is not making the move earlier.
Pip says running the microflower farm and beekeeping business keeps her multigenerational family of 12 well and truly occupied.
“There’s me, my husband and our four children, and then my parents and my sister, and her husband and their two children,” she explains.
For Pip, the dream had always been to allow their children to grow up on the land, but living in the Hawkesbury region of NSW, they knew the size of the plot they wanted was out of reach.
When Pip’s parents retired, it seemed the timing wasn’t going to get better. But while she says it was difficult to leave family and friends behind, they knew if they didn’t make a move, it wouldn’t be possible down the track.
“We knew that once the kids got older, it was only going to be more difficult,” she says.
As well as moving to a new area, the family has also started the flower farm business. Not that it was always the plan.
Pip says they all had gardening backgrounds, rather than farming backgrounds, and it took them around two years to make the decision on what to do.
It was during a driving holiday to Perth when Pip and her husband and children camped next to a flower farm that the idea for their business began to take shape.
After a bit of research, the idea of a flower farm became increasingly appealing.
“It was the idea of providing people with something that isn’t stock standard, and isn’t grown with chemicals that meant a lot to us,” says Pip.
The market for non-chemically grown flowers in Canberra is expanding.
“There seemed to be a lack of local flowers in Canberra, with the main sources for flowers being Sydney and Melbourne,” says Pip.
“Then the more we looked around, the more we saw microfarms around the area and began to make contacts with people.”
Making these contacts has been invaluable for the family because none of the microfarms in the area are big enough to be a ‘one-stop shop’ and therefore they are not in competition with each other.
“We all get on and if somebody wants something you can’t provide, we simply contact another and pass on the business,” says Pip.
“There are plenty of florists in Canberra who are really interested in local flowers, sourcing them responsibly and in a way that is environmentally friendly.”
Now in the family’s third year of growing, and their second year of selling, Pip says it can be hard work.
She, her husband, her sister and her brother-in-law still work full-time jobs from Monday to Friday so they run the farm and apiary on weekends.
Pip’s mum is charged with general work such as weeding, watering and cutting during the week, while her dad manages the farm’s livestock.
“We are a close family and always have been so we all pitch in and get the work done,” says Pip.
“As we’ve gone along, it’s become increasingly obvious as to what everyone’s strengths are.”
The move has also opened up new opportunities for the six children who live on the farm, who along with having made great friends and commenced plenty of extracurricular activities in the region, they also have the chance to hang out with each other at home and do fun things such as exploring and motorbike riding.