The Showers family are still at least two years from opening their orchard gate to self-pickers – in fact the orchard plot is just a few contoured acres on some of the healthiest soil in North East Victoria.
As Australia prepares for National Agriculture Day, November 21, to acknowledge the contribution farming has made to our nation, Charlie Showers, wife Jade Miles and their three children are leading the Regenerative Farming Movement in North East Victoria.
The Showers live at Black Barn Farm, a six-hectare farm at Stanley which, when fully operational, will be a regenerative and diverse orchard, nursery and learning space.
“It’s really about land stewardship and legacy and multi-generational farming and transitional farming, rather than straight commodity farming,” Ms Miles, who has a background in marketing and business mentoring, said.
Their plant nursery has about 50 apple varieties, including many heirloom varieties, waiting for planting.
When complete they also envision eight pear varieties, six cherry, and four varieties each of a range of berries.
The range of flowering and fruiting times will greatly extend their season and help spread the risk of weather events, such as hail.
They will run on-farm workshops, such as plant grafting or cider making, during the year to supplement income.
They actively encourage food swap co-ops and seed swap days through events such as Beechworth Food Coop’s Patch to Patch, held on Saturday, November 18, which promotes home grown food.
Mr Showers’ background is geology and agricultural science, and he believed Stanley was perfect for their farm and education centre.
“In the past it was very common for people in the city to have a relative who was still farming, most people had that connection, but on the whole that doesn’t happen anymore … some people have become completely removed from any component of understanding where their food comes from,” he said.
But don’t think for a minute they are peasant farmers.
“I don’t like the term, in a way we go back to some components of that but we embrace modern technology and modern science and understanding to make it even better,” he said.