Farm Spring Newsletter

Hello to all of you wonderful friends of CCF!
It’s been a while since our last newsletter.

And what a strange, strange time this has been. We continue to send everyone well wishes, hoping that you and your families have remained safe and sane over the past few months and that our lamb and kid goat spam has given you the Farm fix you’ve been needing during lockdown.

We have been quiet, heads down and working hard, as you will see from the stories below. The Farm has had to make some difficult decisions while we have lost all our revenue. Being closed since March to the public, has meant no weddings, no events, no income.  As a result, tightening the purse strings has been necessary to get activity and staff down to the bare essentials  to remain operational. Keeping staff and animals safe and well, continuing to grow food for the community and to make a few long overdue upgrades to the site while we’ve had the time has been our focus.

The community came to our aid at the start of the pandemic with generous donations to keep us afloat as we navigated the rocky road ahead and, thanks to a you all and a few small grants here and there, we hope to re-open with a greener, cleaner, more vibrant space than before.
We cannot say a big enough THANK YOU for your support!  We continue to seek donations from the community – if you can, please dig deep: DONATE HERE

As we draw ever closer to the end of the year, we are inviting you all to renew your memberships and join us as we embark on an exciting 24 months of change and growth at the Farm.

As our community faces the long road of recovery, CCF intends to be there every step of the way, providing a calm, beautiful green space for quiet contemplation, sweet animals to admire, new spaces to run workshops or host your own events and out-of-hours opportunities to engage with the space.

We are working on developing evenings at the Farm, dinners, music, workshops and more. We are expanding our educational offerings and hope that our community will join us on this journey as we discover new ways to engage and delight people of all ages.

As a member, not only do you have unlimited access to the Farm for your family for the year, you are also able to attend our AGM and hear about the year in review and meet some of the new key players as we lay out the plans for the year ahead. This year, the AGM will be an online event and will have short presentations from folk who have been instrumental in paving the way forward for a regenerative agriculture overhaul of the Farm, the design of our new spaces and staff who have been working tirelessly on the plan to roll out significant changes in the next 24 months.

The details for our AGM will be sent out to all members via email in the coming weeks and as an additional incentive for you all to renew, any new members signing up from today before the AGM will receive our new print tea towel and a bumper sticker.

Renewing is now even easier with our online membership form! While you’re there, check out our new look website!  A big thanks to everyone who has worked on this project – it’s been a monumental effort!

As those of you who keep across our socials will know, we are the very grateful recipients of the government’s Building Works Grants. These funds will see the building of a Multi-purpose community space, a nursery and greenhouse, a redesign of the central cafe area and the completion of our First Nations Garden. 

With support from Bendigo Bank, the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Besen Family Foundation, the Farm’s Big Green Shed build is underway. This space will play host to a number of community woodwork workshops and engagement programs. An exciting prospect.

As our gardens continue to expand, the opportunity for new programs will emerge – education for young and old, training or hobbies, serious and fun.

We’d also like to say a big warm WELCOME to our newest recruit, Kate! Kate joins our Animal Husbandry team replacing Farmer Will who has gone off to his bigger farm up north. Welcome to the team, Kate – make sure you say hello when we re-open!

And as we slowly reopen, we will be gradually ramping up our activities across the Farm with new ways to engage, learn and get involved. 

We hope to be able to see you all again soon, back on the Farm and being part of our wonderful community!

News around the farm

We’ve been busy here even though we have been closed and have managed to do some upgrades to some of the central areas and facilities. When you visit next, see how many changes you can spot!

I’ll give you a few of the upgrades to get you started:
–    The Barn’s floor has been grouted and is now much safer, the bluestone around the fire has been completed, and some lovely new finishes installed. Outside we have new garden beds and a bench seat where you can enjoy the shade under the peppercorns.
–  The cafe/ picnic area has had fencing removed, there is a new retaining wall and many lovely new plants to enjoy. Ask our horticulture team about the wonderful species that have been planted.
–  Our compost area has been re-surfaced and we are working with some local organisations to get our composting systems back up and running bigger and better!
–   The toilets have been painted, tiled and some beautiful surrounds have been put around the sinks with pull-out steps to help the little ones reach the taps.

There are still many more improvements around the Farm for you to find and many more which will continue to happen once we reopen again. We look forward to having our community back down on this beautiful part of our city!  – Sev

Daphne’s Holiday

Daphne has been wintering up in the North East, staying on our friend Will’s farm. Don’t worry she has been getting plenty of scratches and pats, but definitely misses you all! She’s been busy teaching a young Jersey calf how to lead and which grasses are the tastiest.

Most importantly though, Daphne is pregnant! We’re not sure if it’s going to be a boy or a girl, so we will just have to wait to find out! She’s due to calve in March and we will keep you updated. In the meantime, Daphne is stretching her legs and eating as much of this new spring growth as she can! – Will

Gardens

Behind the scenes at the Farm, the horticulture team has been busy working on several projects (albeit without the help of our amazing volunteers and visitors). In what may be one of the very few silver linings of this year, the Farm has had time to just focus on the maintenance of some projects which we are excited to reveal how they are progressing and hope you will be back soon to enjoy it all.

The Indigenous food garden …
Around a fire pit and welcoming circle, curved exploratory raised gardens host scores of native and indigenous foods, and whilst many will be new to the untrained eye, that won’t be for long! Now that Spring is here, Bulbine, (chocolate and vanilla lilies), are beginning to show their first flowers and smelling wondrous. The growing yam daisies (Murnong) are building mass underground with their grassy-like mounds which indicate there are tasty roots hidden below. Whilst the completion of the project is dependent on funding (hopefully before the end of year), the adventurous visitor in early 2021 should be careful not to hug any fingerlime trees as these spiky citrus may be easy to overlook but their coloured zesty fruits are certainly not! We look forward to taste testing with you what may best be described as…’vegan lemon caviar’! We’re excited to share what we are learning and continue to collaborate with Narrap Rangers of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation on this wonderful ‘First Nations Showcase Food Garden’. We wish to

recognise their continued amazing work, providing professional services, advocating for and sharing indigenous culture and knowledge.

The Farm has a plethora of fruit trees and every year they need pruning! It’s a mammoth task with more than 10,000 calculated cuts to manage disease, train, shape and promote healthy growth for a bumper crop this Summer of heirloom stone fruit, quince, fig and more. We look forward to sharing the ‘fruits’ of our farm labour at our Farmgate stand!

As part of the ‘Moving Feast’ project, CCF has donated more than 550kg of bok choy and will continue to harvest and share what’s growing across several small start-up food gardens. This food has been distributed to community houses and food banks to reach people in need at this difficult time. The collaboration with ‘Moving Feast’ and style of intensive food production will become more established in a new market garden in the Barn paddock (below the Farm Cafe). To prepare the ground, a cover crop of oats is breaking down into abundant soil life, getting ready to give back to the community table as well as facilitate education and engagement in a field of locally produced food.

The gardens in the seating areas below the Farm Cafe and around the Barn have had a wonderful makeover for everyone to enjoy. Meanwhile, maintenance remains the garden team’s biggest job, weeding, whipper-snipping, watering and maintaining soil health in hail, rain or shine! -Sim & Rachel (overview pic by Synti Ng)

Animals

This month the Farm horses have been rapidly shedding their winter coats. Brushing it all out is a very rewarding but very time-consuming job – we are really missing the Young Farmer’s help with this! The resident magpies have been taking advantage and collecting little chunks of hair for their nests. One has even been venturing inside the Stables as I’m grooming the horses, which is a bit cheeky but very cute.

Most of the Farm animals are periodically moved around to different areas as a way to manage the pasture. It gives the grass the chance to grow back and allows us to make the most of the space we have. This recently gave the horses the chance to watch a little parade of lambs frolicking past on their way to a new paddock. Ollie and Jim both trotted up to the fence, ears stretched forward, very interested indeed with the new little additions. (At least once they worked out that lambs are not a threat – you can never be too careful if you’re a horse!)

The Farrier came this month to trim everyone’s hooves. He uses the equivalent of giant nail clippers and a rasp. Hooves are just like our toenails; they keep growing and don’t hurt to clip or file but if we never ever trimmed them, eventually it would hurt to walk.

In the wild, horses will cover long distances everyday as they search for food. In doing so, their hooves will wear down naturally. Most domesticated horses don’t need to go far at all to find food and will generally require a visit from the Farrier every 6-8 weeks.

The Farm horses may be getting a little bored with the lack of activity at the Farm. Normally they would be working with the Young Farmers, the school holiday programs, RDA and Equine Assisted Coaching (plus taking pony rides).
However, they are being pampered with massages, pedicures and general grooming which is more than most Melbourne residents have been able to enjoy these last few months.
They are having a very relaxing holiday and have perfected the art of eating grass while laying down in the sun! – Michelle

The sheep and goats have all had their babies. We have 7 lambs and 6 goat kids who are all growing up very fast and are bouncing around in the Spring sunshine. I am really sorry that none of our visitors can enjoy the babies in person at the moment, but please keep your eyes on the Farm’s social media pages for regular updates. As much as we would love to have the babies visible from the bike path, the new mums and bubs need special clean paddocks to start out in and this year those paddocks are all inside the Farm. But soon, once the babies get a bit bigger they will be able to move to other paddocks, so keep an eye out for them!

You may have noticed that the goats in one of the bike path paddocks had to be fenced off so that they are no longer accessible from the bike path. This was unfortunately due to our goats being fed too much extra food. Our sheep and goats would like to say that ‘just because we eat something doesn’t mean that it is good for us! We can get very sick from eating the wrong things, so please don’t feed us anything. If we come up to the fence we still love for you to say “hi” and maybe give us a gentle pat, but please leave feeding us to our Farm friends. Thank you everyone for all the pats and we look forward to many more!’ – Mia