What the Farm?!

Anything can happen in one year.

After my last relationship disaster and the subsequent grief after it’s demise, I was ready to give up on men for good. Writing my book Brave Women Write was the antidote to heartbreak, a challenging yet somehow miraculous cure. The book renewed my faith that a new love might be just around the corner.

And it was!

Enter Ric. We met through an introduction by my Birrarung (Yarra) River swimming friend Amanda.

Ric and I with Harvey the Golden Retriever.

One year on, we’re in love, in a partnership and the current custodians of a 10-acre property in Red Hill, Mornington Peninsula.

As I said, anything can happen in a year!

Ric and I are not getting any younger. He’s 64 and I’m 60 later this year. We figure if we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it. Carpe diem, as they say.

Sunset views from the verandah.

But there’s a challenge. While the property is stunning in so many ways, it needs a fair bit of rehabilitation. A large tract of the land contains a dark and gloomy forest containing pines and other invasive species such as pittosporum. A number of the gums are dying and there’s not much wildlife. Then there’s a massive and delightful English garden that needs some tending to. The garden surrounds a 1960’s house that was much-loved but needs a makeover.

The gloomy pine tree forest on our land to the left and the neighbours vineyards on the right.

We’re on a mission to refurbish the house, adopt permaculture practices to grow our own food, rehabilitate the land with native species, work towards self-sufficiency, zero-emissions and zero-waste and create a haven for family, friends and community to gather.

The English(ish) garden and lawns hiding the 1960’s house.

We’ll be doing all this while living and working between our city apartment in Clifton Hill and the country home in Red Hill while exploring ideas for a business venture to connect our two hills communities.

Sounds like a grand plan, right?

As life-time city-dwellers and novices to farming, we have no illusions there’ll be as many challenges as rewards, but we’re going to give it our best shot. While Ric is pretty handy at most things, I have no idea ‘what the farm’ I’m doing?! 

The first Saffron Milkcap (Pine) Mushroom harvest shared with our Clifton Hill community.

And now, a bit about us.

Ric is of Italian heritage. He owns a successful renewable energy business, is a climate warrior and campaigner to government for policy change. He has three children and three grandkids between the ages of 2 and 4 who he loves in that fierce Italian way. Family is everything to him.

Ric’s passions include hiking, footie, veggie gardening, chooks, woodworking, cooking and building things. He needs to know how everything works and will go down a YouTube rabbit-hole for hours until he knows all there is to know on a subject whether that’s composting, growing fruit trees or stump-pulling.

Invasive pine trees slowly being removed to let the gum trees breathe and grow.

Ric’s both a dreamer and a doer and I’m thankful that he’s willing to have me as his apprentice. (When he reads that last line he’ll laugh out loud. He says I have a mind of my own and will not be told what to do!)

And now to me, Carolyn. I’m a descendant of British settlers who became farmers. As a freelance writer and educator, I’ve published six books and have been teaching and working on purposeful projects for over 20 years. These days my focus is on writing and sharing the stories that move people to remake our world—particularly for women and Mother Earth.

Barefoot walking in nature brings me much joy.

As a nature lover, I’m at my happiest communing with the trees and birds, swimming in the Birrarung (Yarra) River and the ocean (especially in the depths of winter) and connecting with kinfolk doing great things for other people and our precious planet Earth. 

My son Billy is 25 and he lives in Melbourne. He’s almost as excited as we are about hanging out at Red Hill, but he hasn’t been put to work yet so all that might change!

And then there’s Harvey the eight-year-old Golden Retriever. Ric and I swear he’s developed a permanent grin since we’ve been here. Rabbits beware!

Happy Harvey!

Together, Ric and I (with Harvey’s help) make a magic team. We’re working with this land for a purpose beyond ourselves—to create a haven where humans and the more than human world can happily co-exist and thrive. We hope our stories brighten your day, connect you more deeply to Mother Earth and perhaps even inspire your own tree-change.