Home' Smart Farmer : June 2012 Contents Business, challenges
As a NASAA-certified organic producer,
sourcing inputs was another initial challenge
for the nursery, however Diana and Jen now
mix their own potting mixes from certified
organic compost and inputs sourced through
SA Composters and other suppliers
While production is labour-intensive and
costs associated with water and electricity are
larger than for other outdoor nurseries, Diana
believes remaining small-scale has benefits.
"We have been able to develop some of our
seedling lines in eco-friendly fibre Jiffy pots
and punnets -- customers really appreciate the
benefits," she said.
"By being smaller, we can diversify our
products more easily than larger production
"We can offer a wide range of varieties of
seedlings, including many less common her-
itage vegetables keenly sought by increasing
numbers of passionate home food gardeners.
"Kale is an interesting example here -- a few
years ago it was almost unknown -- but after
research, it has proven its tremendous health
benefits, it's like it is a new vegetable and gar-
deners are loving it! We offer six varieties of
Part of the wide range of GOS is an exten-
sive range of up to 30 heirloom tomato vari-
eties and open-pollinated, sprouting broccoli.
Popular products on sale at the
markets include kitchen garden
packs and mini-garden salad bowls,
along with the range of GreenSmart self-
watering tubs ready-planted with organic
salad greens -- ideal for small gardens, court-
yards, window sills and as gifts. Every pur-
chase also comes complete with helpful
gardening advice -- for free!
"Over the years, we have developed a loyal
and extensive network of regular customers
by selling direct at farmers markets," Diana
"It keeps our costs down and allows us to
connect with the customer in a manner not
achievable through selling to retail outlets.
"This way we can offer service and support
that is rewarded by happy, returning cus-
In addition to farmers markets, Diana also
works with the wider community in promot-
ing home kitchen gardens and food produc-
She runs two organic gardening courses
annually and has supplied seedlings for the
Onkaparinga Council's Magic Harvest Program,
which funds community members to plant
and grow a one metre square kitchen garden
in their own backyard.
GOS sells at the Willunga Farmers Market,
the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market,
the Stirling Market, Organic & Sustainable
Market at Henley Beach and at the Adelaide
Hills Farmers Market at Mount Barker.
• Need to know more?
08 8383 0603
0407 339 660
Email: email@example.com or
RSD 57, Hunt Road, McLaren Vale
By LIZ COTTON
THE Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Forestry in partnership with the Adelaide and
Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources
Management Board is presenting a free work-
shop on soil health and carbon farming with
expert speakers on topics such as soil carbon,
biology and fertility.
The workshop will also introduce the Carbon
Farming Initiative, including the process,
methodologies for the region and funding
• Soil carbon, biology and health
• Methane reductions: research review and
• Carbon Farming Initiative: methodologies
and carbon trading
• Opportunities to increase soil carbon,
Hahndorf: Tuesday, June 19.
Yankalilla: Wednesday, June 20.
Gawler: Thursday, June 21.
Time: 9:30am- 4pm, morning tea and lunch
To register or obtain further information con-
tact Melanie Bullers (Harndorf) 08 8389 5913,
Jodie Pain (Yankalilla) 08 8550 3405 or Gail
Kennedy (Gawler) 08 8523 7700.
At a recent meeting, council resolved to sup-
port the Supaloc Targa Adelaide event to be
held in August. The support comes after the
event organisers Octagon demonstrated a will-
ingness to accommodate community concerns.
Mayor Bill Spragg commented that the recent
survey conducted by the council showed there
was strong community interest in road rallies in
the Adelaide Hills region, however event organ-
isers needed to be mindful of the impact of
these rallies on the whole community.
"Council's decision has taken into account
that Octagon is prepared to alter itsr special
stage routes for the event in the interest of resi-
dents, including reducing the road closure times
from 4.5 hours last year to 3.5 hours," Mr
"We have previously said how serious our
community voice is to our decision making
process and this is no different."
"Support for the event is also conditional
upon the event organisers providing council
with a post-event report within two months of
completing the event.
"Council will consider this report and, along
with an event policy which is being developed
we will be better placed to make decisions
about this type of event in the future."
The Supaloc Targa Adelaide Rally will run on
State and local roads from August 23 to 26.
Details of road closures will be available on the
council's website closer to the event.
By LIZ COTTON
ISILLUSIONED with conventional
seedlings and the limited availability of
certified organic varieties, natural
greenthumbs Diana Bickford and Jen Harvey
decided to start up their own business.
Despite some bumps along the way, the duo
are enjoying a successful journey since their
decision, about eight years ago.
And in spring, they plan to expand into far-
mgate sales at the Bickleigh Vale Farm nursery
and market garden, McLaren Vale.
The nursery produces NASAA-certified
organic vegetable seedlings under the
Greenseed Organic Seedlings brand, along
with the market garden gourmet, organic
salad greens and seasonal mixed vegetables,
and retails through up to four farmers markets
each weekend, with peak seasons in autumn
The revegetated and remnant vegetation
farmland that plays home to GOS has been in
Diana's family for 40 years and was formerly
run as a cottage garden nursery by her moth-
er.The seedling nursery started with existing
infrastructure and now utilises a range of
polytunnels for the seedling production,
including a specialised propagation tunnel fit-
ted with electric heatbed mats, set at an even
20C-degree temperature to provide the ideal
climate for seed propagation.
A larger, field greenhouse tunnel has been
built for specialty market garden crops.
"Protecting the crops from the elements
makes all the difference for winter growing --
they can now grow very happily under the
protected tunnels," Diana said.
"We have been able to dramatically lift
production and, at the same time, crop man-
agement has become much more efficient."
Diana says to keep costs low, those entering
the business should seek advice from other
seedling growers and make use of as much
existing infrastructure as possible.
"Convert old, un-used sheds and keep an
eye out at salvage yards for polypipe.
Electricity costs and labour can also prove
expensive, so investigate alternative energy
sources, such as solar, and start small: look for
ways to sell direct and carve out niche mar-
kets," she said.
Who: Diana Bickford and Jen Harvey
Company: Bickleigh Vale Farm nursery
Brand: Greenseed Organic Seedlings
Products: Certified organic vegetable and
herb seedlings, looseleaf salad greens and sea-
Small seeds of success
Greenthumbs Diana Bickford and Jen Harvey
decided to start up their own business about
eight years ago and, despite some bumps
along the way, they are enjoying a successful
Popular products on sale at the markets include kitchen garden packs and mini-garden salad
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