I was in Melbourne for the easter holidays a few weeks ago when my kids and I were invited to tour this gorgeous 37 acres farm called Springview farm, located at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges in the suburb of Narre Warren East. I had the pleasure of meeting the farm owner Jo through my friend Einas who lives in Melbourne. Einas had talked to me several times before about this farm and every time she would tell me about the animals and the fresh organic fruit and vegetables there, she would see the excitement on my face.
So this time I was in Melbourne, Einas surprised me and said that she had talked to her friend Jo and that we were all invited to spend a day at the farm. I couldn’t be happier and the kids were chicken dancing, literally.
It was a lovely sunny morning in Melbourne when we headed to the farm from my friend’s house, it wasn’t a long drive but it was a beautiful one. While driving we could see horses and cows on both sides of the road. It seems that this part of Melbourne has its own unique aura.
As we were getting closer to the farm, the scenery was getting prettier and prettier, the trees were almost covering the view of the sky. The kids were also getting louder and louder at the back from the excitement.
Turning right into a rocky and wobbly street, I knew we were almost there and naturally I grabbed my camera from my bag and got myself ready to capture this picture of the farm’s gate and sign. The first one to welcome us was Jo’s lovely dog ‘Cookie’ and of course he made an announcement for our arrival.
We parked at the entrance of the house and there was Jo standing at the door welcoming us with a beautiful smile on her face. She walked us through her country style house straight into the backyard, and there was this stunning view where the green fields didn’t seem to end. My friend’s kids knew their way around the farm so they took my kids to show them the massive built in trampoline and they started the flips, meanwhile Jo was giving us an overview of the farm.
We started the tour and our first stop was at the fruit trees, which was the closet to the house. Cookie the dog seemed to know his way to the apple trees too well .. Jo explained that he loves apples and eats too much of them every day. haha!
There were red and green apple trees and they had a good amount growing on them. Jo explained how she started growing these trees and mentioned some of the difficulties she faced and still faces during the process. ” The wasps are the worst, they love my apples too much”, she said. Despite the challenges, Jo manages to get a fair amount of healthy organic produce which she uses to make her own registered brand of jams and chutneys.
We then proceeded towards the vegetables patch which we entered through a separate timber gate and naturally everyone was ahead of me, because I have the camera and I like to take my time. But I could hear the kids calling ‘mum, muuuum.. come and taste the strawberries’.
As soon as I walked into the veggie patch, there were these beautiful beetroots (my favourite root vegetable). Jo said that she had planted them not long ago and that they were growing really well. I took a few pictures of them and then went to taste these delicious strawberries. We stayed for a while in this area as the kids were picking some cherry tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries, which didn’t last long in their hands because they were too delicious!
Jo was explaining how she fertilises her vegetable beds using cow and horse manure from the farm. As she was talking, her gorgeous horses started walking along the fence that separates the veggie patch from where they stay. The kids walked towards the horses and asked Jo if they can cross over and pat them, and she kindly let them. She gave the kids a few safety tips though, such as, never stand or play behind the horse, they can kick you and they are quiet strong animals.
I wasn’t completely done with the vegetables, I really wanted to check the pumpkins out, they looked huge from a distance. I decided to step inside the pumpkin patch, the soil underneath my feet was soft and moist, my camera was not helping me balance properly, but I had to take this picture of the pumpkin, right? At this stage I had trapped myself in the middle of the patch, slipped a few times and got back up, my pants had mud on them and were a little wet too (remember she fertilises with cow and horse manure, eeew!). My friend was with the kids patting the horses, she looked back at me and asked if I was ok, and of course I said: ‘ yes, all good, I’m coming now ‘
Last stop was at the chickens and roosters house, where the kids were chasing the birds trying to hold them in their arms, but then soon they realised that it’s not easy and that the chickens could get a bit aggressive with flapping those wings in their faces, so they gave up and went inside the house to collect some fresh eggs.
Cookie was sooo excited to see the eggs coming out of the house. I was confused until Jo explained that Cookie loves to eat eggs and she told the kids not to bring them too close to him as he would eat them all up. Jo did give him one or two eggs, but we managed to protect the rest. Cookie eats everything on this farm! it’s funny.
At this stage it was getting really warm outside and the kids were starting to get hungry too. We took the eggs in a bucket and headed to the kitchen. Jo started baking some delicious scones and chocolate chip cookies which she had prepared earlier, the kids were playing the piano in the background and Einas and I were setting the table.
By the time the bakes were ready we were all starving, we started eating on her timber country style dining table, and I still can’t get over how delicious these scones were, especially with her home made raspberry jam and cream. Absolutely nothing beats home made food, right?
The kids and I had already asked Jo many questions about her farm while we were walking around, but there were still a couple more questions, I personally, wanted to ask. Seeing how big her land is and how much hard work she puts into this, and knowing that she is a single mother looking after three kids, one with a disability, I wouldn’t have left with out asking her how she manages to balance her life with so much on her plate.
Here’s a short interview with Jo and this is what she had to say:
Q1: Where did the farm name come from?
It was named by the previous owner who had built this house. He had this farm for 40 years before we bought it and we are still good friends with him.
The name spring view farm comes from the farm’s view, because when you look out from anywhere you see springs, when you walk down towards the dam there are springs coming out from the ground, I have tyres all around them because it gets pretty muddy, and it could be dangerous for the horses to walk there.
Q2: What inspired you to farm and what motivates you to keep going everyday?
Well, I grew up in a farm, so my entire life has been living on a property, my grandmother from my dad’s side was constantly cooking on her big Aga stove, I have memories of her carrying kangaroos in hessian sacks. We used to walk across the paddock to my grandmother’s and she would always be cooking something from scratch for us.
We had a great lifestyle growing up, we always used to go blackberry picking. I grew up with horses and I have many pictures of me and my mum in the paddock with the horses. I think it’s the best lifestyle for raising kids and I love seeing my kids enjoying it.
Doing this everyday is actually relaxing for me, I’ve always loved it. Before starting springviewfarm gourmet as a brand, I did catering with one of my girlfriends and even then Christmas gifts were always me making home made chutneys and jams, pretty much all of my gifts were home made.
Seeing the result of what i’ve made is what really inspires me to keep going, especially when people come back and say ‘can I have some more of this delicious jam?’, nothing is more rewarding to me.
Q3: What do you enjoy doing the most on the farm?
Umm .. pretty much everything, each part of this farm has its own beauty. But I have to say I used to enjoy riding and breading the horses the most. I bread the three young ones, the two girls, and the naughty one Caruso who was chewing on you out there.
My horses have been my friends since forever, they give me unconditional love. There is something really special about horses. I believe if you form that bond with them, they would do anything for you. They crave attention and love and they will show that they care.
The garden is another special spot, when we came here there was nothing, only gum trees, a bush pretty much. We built it from scratch, I added flowers (my favourite is roses), fruit trees, veggie patches, all the things that you’ve just seen. I love the fact that I can look out from any window and see something beautiful.
Q4: How would you like to see this farm in the future?
I would love to do proper farm tours, in order to do this I know I need to expand, which I’m planning to do soon. I want to build a big veranda where people can view the whole paddock from, and enjoy a relaxing lunch with some tea and home made scones.
Q5: Would you be interested in starting something educational for people who are willing to learn more about gardening and farming?
I would absolutely love it.
My son Will, who has a disability as a result of a previous stroke, was invited several times before to camps and the reason why he didn’t want to go, is that these camps only cater for the children. I know that kids like Will would need their families to be with them, it would make them feel more comfortable. And so, my idea for the farm stays would be to set up some cottages on top of the hills outlooking the green fields and the paddocks, where the whole family, especially those who have been through a traumatic experience, can stay comfortably, regroup and enjoy every part of the farm.
Thank you Jo for a wonderful day xx
Check out her website and the organic products she makes here
Follow Jo on her Instagram account to see what she’s up to @springfarmgourmet