Farming with nature

September 21, 2016

Simplicity, sustainability and connection inform life on the farm for Grown & Gathered market gardeners, flower traders and fearless farmers Matt and Lentil Purbrick.

Matt and Lentil Purbrick
Photo: Shantanu Starick

Farrming for Lentil began when she met Matt. He was running his own small-scale organic farm near Tabilk in Central Victoria, having learnt from some of the gardening elders in the area. He was doing it on his own, growing heirloom vegetables including way too many zucchinis (who hasn’t overplanted zucchinis) and delivering them to Melbourne’s restaurants. There was a simplicity in what he was doing that Lentil felt she had been craving her entire life.

So she started to grow flowers alongside him. One by one the beds became full of blooms and the farm slowly grew bigger. As it turns out, the vegetables grew better with the flowers, and the flowers better with the vegies. The duo watched nature daily and taught themselves, read books on the oldest farming methods that existed, obsessed over heirloom varieties of crops and lived totally in tune with the seasons.

Naturally, what they did extended beyond just farming vegetables and flowers, to learning to gather food from the wild, raise animals, source the foods they couldn’t grow as ethically and responsibly as possible and preserve and ferment for the cooler months of the year. For both, farming had gone far beyond what they were simply producing. It had impacted the way they saw things. It had impacted their whole life, and they had never felt so fulfilled.

Trade without money became a key component of their life philosophy, tentatively at first, but then quite fearlessly, as they experienced incredible connections by trading their abundances with others. If you can (and you can!) Lentil and Matt recommend bringing the practice into your life. When money is removed from the equation, the value of the experience itself expands so freely. Trading completes their life in the most satisfying way.

Four years down the track, with their business Grown & Gathered, they sell produce grown on the farm and gathered from the wild to Melbourne’s restaurants; trade flowers with people, florists and events; have a blog with recipes and information about all the things they make and do; advocate and educate for a brighter sustainable future; and have just released their first book, Grown & Gathered, about all of these things. 

For the full story on these inspiring micro-farmers, get your copy of Issue 91 ABC Organic Gardener magazine. OUT NOW!

Related topics

Plants & Vegetables, Issue 91 – November/December 2016, GROW