Simon and Rony – Our Guests from Australia

Staff Profiles – There are a few new faces at the farm, and we wanted to introduce you to everyone so we can all get to know each other! Up next: Sarah Superstar!

Simon & Rony

This summer we’ve had a couple of guests staying with us all the way from Australia! Simon and Rony arrived in June and are here for 2 months. They’re living on the farm with Liz and Gordie and helping out through the busy summer months picking strawberries and raspberries, asparagus, green beans and sugar snap peas and of course doing lots of weeding and watering.

Originally from Melbourne, they chose to travel out this way because Rony has a sister who lives in Ithaca! (Her name’s Emma Frisch – you might have seen her on the current series of Food Network Star!). Back in Melbourne, Simon worked as an ambulance paramedic and Rony just finished training as a psychologist – but at the end of last year they decided it was time for a change of scene and so they resigned from their jobs and embarked on an 8-month adventure to spend time with family over here and do some travel through the USA and South America. If you’re visiting Silver Queen for some berry picking you’ll probably see them around – so be sure to say hello!

While living on the farm, Simon and Rony have also been writing a blog to keep all they’re Australian friends and family up to date with their news. Below we’ve pasted their latest blog post, which is all about the lessons they’re learning on Silver Queen Farm…

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Hardening Up on Silver Queen Farm

We’ve learnt a lot in our 6 weeks of farm life so far. You can’t wear flip-flops when feeding the chickens because toes look a lot like fat tasty worms to chickens. A five-pound bucket of beans feels quite light until you have to walk from one end of the farm to the other with it. Silver Queen is a type of corn. It’s collard greens not coloured greens. Huge thunder storms are exciting but they can also cut the power for 3 days which is tough when all the water in the house runs on electric pumps. And if ever given a choice about what you’d like to pick for the morning, just choose anything that’s not green because picking green things amidst a jungle of green leaves and green stems and green weeds feels a lot like an endless optical illusion.

But by far, our favourite lesson on the farm has been the explanation that Gordie gave us very early on about the process that all the plants have to go through before they make it into the fields; also known as the ‘hardening up’ process.

The first step entails planting the seeds into tiny little trays in the greenhouse and watering them twice a day until they begin to sprout. The next stage involves carefully transplanting the tiny new plants into slightly bigger trays. This is mostly done by Gordie’s 83-year-old mum June. She visits us a few times each week to sit in the shade and transplant seedlings and she refuses to call it work, preferring to refer to it as her weekly therapy. The third stage involves the newly transplanted little plants in their slightly bigger trays being placed back in the greenhouse for a few weeks to increase in size while still being watered twice a day and of course being sheltered from any intense weather. Then, once they’re looking a bit bigger and a lot stronger, they’re moved outside onto the trailer for a week or two to properly harden up. Here they’re exposed to all the elements, yet still get a good watering twice-a-day. They don’t grow much during this time. Instead it’s all about toughening up for the real world out in the fields. A bit of a shock to the system really, but necessary for their next and final stage, which is being planted out in the harsh fields where they are at the whim of inconsistent rain, big winds, thunderstorms and long hot, humid days.

We’ve been using the hardening up process as a metaphor for our own time on the farm. We suspect we’re now on the trailer, not quite ready for the fields but getting close. It’s so liberating to finally be out of the greenhouse though!

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