Kyle Levier is a market gardner on the South Coast of NSW who has decided to share his stories of triumph, tragedy and comedy from his plot with a monthly post for our 100kilos.org community. As a start here’s an introduction from Kyle…remember to scroll down and check out the pictures as well!
Living and loving life on the South coast NSW. Kyle Levier, gardener, surfer, homebrewer, talker and supporter of the simple things. I moved to the South coast NSW in 2013. After leaving Northwest WA, I returned to my place of birth, Canberra. I had an unexpected extended stay, due to a bush walking injury. After 4 months of pain, unemployement and tests they finally discovered a 4 inch splinter in my leg, which I had surgically removed. Recovering on the coast, my partner read a postion vacant ad in the local rag: Market gardener Internship offered by SAGE. A 12 month position for an Intern gardener, growing veggies on semi commercial scale (600m2) and a spot in the SAGE market gardners workshop. A 6 course workshop run by Fraser Bailey, of Old mill Road.
I had always liked growing food, whether is was some potted herbs or a small veggie garden, even in the 45 degree heat of the Pilbara WA! The position highly appealed to me, it ticked the environmental, sustainable and ethical boxes. I had been looking for a change from my past life as Painter and decorator for 14 years to something more wholesome, selfless and satisfying.
It was already written, I was the successful applicant, and the journey began. The position is an ideal way to get straight into market gardening, the soil is there (fertile alluvial flats at the SAGE garden, Moruya), tools, water and all the support and encouragement needed to get going. Growing organically taught me more about the soil, the garden and the ecosystems connecting them. Seedraising, composting, weed management (herbicide free), crop planning and pest control were all steep learning curves, then so was selling produce.
There were times of despair when the fruit fly, white cabbage butterfly and cutworms rudely interupted world saving plans, but thats gardening right? We held 2 fun events incorporating crops from the gardening, the highlights of my time there, The corn fiesta, and Spudfest. Both events were interactive, involving harvesting, cooking and and a little history on the night. Very successful events bringing gardeners, foodies and the community together for a celebration of seasonal harvest. Great family fun nights.
During the final months of my time, the need for transition approached, I began the search for land to grow on. Purchasing land was not an option, so I dug deep to find my cold calling skills and approached local growers, farmers, actually anyone I spoke to in the end, about the possibility of a landshare agreement.
Introducing Barry Crapp, 15 Bumbo Road Trunketabella. Many coast goers will know his place. Heading South on the Princess Hwy there is a little trianglar patch of land just North of Bodalla. There is a white postmasters gallery sign at the bottom and a beautiful ol timber shed at the top, which was once the Trunketabella cheese factory. In between is improved soil Barry grew veggies on for decades, with a big reputation for his onions, spuds and potkins.
I visited Barry several times before respectfully asking to use his land to grow on…his reply…”Well its saves me mowin’ it!” followed by his signature loud cackle. A handshake confirmed the deal. Old skool.
That was nearly 12 months ago and boy havent I learned some things, and continue to do so. I am a novice gardener, with passion, and a desire to grow nutritious food, I am a student of the soil. I am just like every other veggie growing gardener, winning, losing and loving it. It’s become my obsession.
I love hearing other stories, experiments and trials from other growers, for the sharing of knowledge is so valuable. We gardeners are all striving for the same outcome, nutritious, fresh food to keep our taste buds happy, and our body and mind healthy. The industrial food growing system is failing, and the majority of us have more than adequate growing mediums right there in our backyard, and with the abundance of information, and resources, we should all be enjoying more homegrown produce. There are many many reasons why we should grow our own food, but my main reason is that I know what Im eating, and we are what we eat.