MFH’s Grow / Source / Eat fruit and veg subscription scheme would not be possible without an array of passionate local VIC suppliers. We believe that it is important for our community to know more about where their food comes from, who grows it and the practices and values that drive them. Introducing Clare, MFH’s own urban farmer. Clare is a young farmer with a fresh curiosity and appetite to grow seasonal and nutrient dense food while preserving and enhancing our natural ecosystem.
CLARE HARVEY OF MELBOURNE FOOD HUB FARM
Clare Harvey took over the urban farm at MFH in March this year just as Covid-19 began to rattle things up in Australia. Clare centres the 3 ethics of permaculture, which are “earth care, people care and fair share” in all of her work by growing regeneratively and organically, engaging meaningfully with the community and growing food for those that may not have easy access to it. She is proud to farm on the MFH site which has been transformed from a quarry, rubbish tip and dormant concreted scrap into a thriving food hub and urban farm through intelligent, nature-centric design.
5 years ago, Clare graduated from her Arts degree feeling rather lost. She decided to steer in a new direction, completing a Permaculture Design certificate and fell head over heels in love with the holistic principles and mindful ethics that define this philosophy. She passionately describes it as the “most beautiful blend of science, design and community building”. With a desire to learn as much as she could, Clare went on a solo trip up north in Australia and immersed herself in as many learning experiences as she could. She worked on a hemp farm, at a cattle and camel station as well as at several permaculture farms. She reflects on being dirty and exhausted each day “mustering camels on a quad bike, skinning and gutting rabbits, weeding for endless hours and feasting on tropical fruit”. After plenty of time spent volunteering and completing internships and short courses, she embarked on her next career move, studying Horticulture at university.
Clare believes that farmers are commonly misunderstood to all be older males with farming backgrounds but as a young female from Sydney’s Inner West, she emphasises that “anyone can become a farmer, and we need as many passionate young people in the field (yes, pun intended), as possible!”. With the MFH farm being only 600m2, Clare believes you don’t need a huge amount of land to produce significant harvests and grow commercially. She is a strong advocate for urban farming and believes that “with an innovative and thoughtful approach, urban farming will form a robust contribution to more resilient and sustainable food systems in our future.”
Prior to Covid-19, Clare had plans to increase on-farm education at the MFH site including offering workshops and courses, however this has been put on hold indefinitely. In the immediate future, she is focussing her energy towards enriching the soil ecosystem at the farm and cover cropping to control disease and pests while increasing soil biology and organic matter. Clare explains that the farm has really supported her mental health during this challenging time and enjoys working outdoors in the sun, listening to podcasts, chatting to volunteers, and looking at her produce thinking, proudly “I grew this!”
She is also a happy contributor to the Moving Feast program, growing food for food relief agencies. Clare sees great potential for local food systems, urban agriculture and values-based food production beyond Covid-19.
I recognise that this has been a tragedy but I do think Covid-19 has refocused us on some
home truths-that our health is important and healthy food is a major factor in this. I believe
that urban farming is critical to connect city-dwellers with our food and natural systems.
Community engagement with sustainable food systems encourages people to think about their
own consumption and the broader impacts of this. Having supply close to demand also just
Clare only grows what is in season and is currently harvesting Silverbeet/Chard, Kale, Parsley, Head Lettuce, Bok Choy, Spring Onion, Coriander, Radish, Carrot and Beetroot. Come Spring and Summer, she is dreaming of growing Zucchini, Cucumber, Basil and Bush Beans.