14 October 2022

Take the first step on your farming journey with Stepping Stone Farm

| Lucy Ridge
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three farmers pose

Joyce Wilkie (R) has been mentoring new market gardeners at Stepping Stone Farm since 2020. Photo: Stepping Stone Farm.

Did you ever think about farming, but didn’t know where to start? Stepping Stone Farm is seeking a new intake of interns for their hands-on training program in Moruya.

Stepping Stone Farm is an initiative of SAGE: Sustainable Agriculture Gardening Eurobodalla. The farm was started in 2020 as part of their bold holistic strategy to increase local food supply by supporting a new generation of market gardeners.

SAGE is a not-for-profit, community based organisation that is working to create and support a sustainable, fair food economy on the NSW South Coast, and work towards food sovereignty for local communities.

Stepping Stone Farm is designed to overcome systemic boundaries for new farmers by offering a practical, hands-on program under the leadership of veteran market gardener Joyce Wilkie, who is both the farm manager and intern mentor.

Two people wash salad

Interns on the farm learn a broad range of skills. Photo: Stepping Stone Farm.

Under Joyce’s guidance the farm has been designed to offer as many learning outcomes as possible.

“No two small scale market gardens are the same,” Joyce said.

“A successful business is the result of the farmer matching their own personal preferences, finances and skills with the land they have access to and the market they sell into.”

Stepping Stone Farm sells most of its produce through the Moruya Farmers Market – another SAGE initiative – and their high quality, nutritious and diverse range of vegetables regularly attracts a crowd of returning customers. They also supply vegetables and micro greens to a number of restaurants and caterers in the area.

market stall with vegetables

Stepping Stone Farm grows and sells a variety of organic vegetables. Photo: Stepping Stone Farm.

So far the Stepping Stone team has transformed five acres of grassy paddock into productive and fertile farming land. Despite the wet weather of the past couple of seasons, the farm produces a bounty of organically grown vegetables, with a focus on heirloom and open-pollinated varieties. Joyce explains that different techniques are used across the farm to give interns a wide range of skills.

“In the poly tunnels we use no dig techniques, compared with open cultivation in the field,” she said.

“The farm has a two-wheel walk behind tractor with four implements, but this season it has been necessary to graduate to bed forming with a four-wheel tractor.

“Depending on the crop, planting out of seedlings is done manually or with a paper pot planter. Interns also learn direct seeding techniques and a variety of weed control techniques to ensure they have options when they develop their own market gardens.”

people on farm

Stepping Stone Farm offers interns hands-on experience in market gardening. Photo: Stepping Stone Farm.

Interns at Stepping Stone work for four to five days a week in exchange for knowledge, hands-on experience, and mentoring in developing their own market garden enterprise. Participants are able to gain practical experience across all aspects of the business: from saving seeds, to driving a tractor and selling at a market stall. Meals are provided twice daily, five days a week and there are accommodation options available. The farm is located less than ten minutes’ drive from Moruya.

Previous interns have been successful in running their own market gardening enterprises and Joyce Wilkie and the SAGE team are excited to welcome new and enthusiastic participants to the farm.

Interested applicants can find more information on the SAGE Stepping Stone Farm website.

SAGE Farmers Market takes place every Tuesday afternoon from 3 pm at Riverside Park, Moruya.

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