Spending winters working as a chef at the lodge she manages in Perisher with partner Duane, Erica wanted locally grown chemical free veggies. Figuring there would be others who would also want chemical free veggies, she started planting a veggie garden on their Jindabyne property, Two Gums Farm, in 2019. Working full-time hours off the farm, Erica was working in the garden in her spare time. 2023 is her first year working in the garden full time. Loving every minute of it. “It’s hard work”, Erica tells me, “but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Erica’s driving force is their daughter knowing how to grow food and where everything comes from.

Published 4th March 2024. Words and Photos Mandy Lamont

Growing principals

Starting very small with berries, garlic and rhubarb, she has now been selling a variety of fruits and vegetables to the public for four years.  Using generative processes, Two Gums Farm are a chemical free natural based farm. Practicing healthy crop rotation, the fields are left fallow to return nutrients to the soil. Incorporating compost to deliver plant nutrients they only use natural-based pesticides.  Two Gums Farm now grow a variety of fruit and vegetables including garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, snow peas, beans, beetroot, carrots, zucchini, squash, corn, salad mix, as well as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, rhubarb and many more.

The Challenges of growing at 1,100 metres

“At 1,100 metres it definitely has it’s challenges, from the shortness of the season, to the random frosts and snow falls in December that Mother Nature likes to throw at me”, says Erica.

Passionate about local produce consumed locally and reducing food kilometres one box at a time. Erica saw a need in the community for quality local produce and decided to make the big decision to make it her mission to supply it to the community. Wanting to educate people to say that yes we can grow food here in the Snowy Mountains and it doesn’t have to be coated in chemicals, and that being imperfect with a bug bite or hail damage is ok.

The colder days are a limiting factor with growth slowing right down. Veggie boxes are available from mid November till the end of March/mid April. In winter Erica and Duane manage a lodge at Perisher.

With Duane’s background in horticulture and Erica’s work as a chef, they know what is needed to produce the most flavourful vegetables that taste how they were meant to taste. As a chef, quality produce is what makes Erica’s cooking taste amazing.

From little things

The very small price to pay for locally grown fresh produce is convenience. Now with dozens of customers ordering a weekly veggie box, Erica harvests Friday mornings, meeting locals in Jindabyne and Berridale to collect their veggie box. It doesn’t get much fresher than that. She also attends the Cooma Rotary market, Cooma Railway markets, the Snowy Community Market and supplies produce to Shut the Gate in Berridale and the Independent Grocer in Jindabyne

You can order a half box with a huge variety of different veggies for $30 or full box for $50. To get on the weekly mailing list, email twogums2016@gmail.com

For more information check out the Two Gums Farm website here

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