Young Leader Chloe Fox Takes Organic Farm’s Reins
New Zealander Chloe Fox, 31, can’t believe her luck. One minute she is living her life’s ambition, working in “the best job ever” growing fresh, healthy crops for an organic vegetable producer. Seemingly the next she is the boss and proprietor, running the whole business.
For Fox, recounting her sudden elevation from farm worker to farm proprietor in July this year still causes her head to spin.
She puts it down to serendipity, being in the right place at the right time.
Amazingly, she was offered the chance to buy Somerset Heritage Produce, based by the Goulburn River at Seymour and supplier to 30 of Melbourne’s most successful restaurants, after just 18 months of working there.
Not one to ignore an opportunity, she quickly signed on the dotted line.
Fox paid about AU$130,000 for the business, which operates both on the 1.8ha leased from a local winery and restaurant, Somerset Crossing, and from another leased 0.8-ha property on former market garden land at Keilor on the outskirts of Melbourne.
The business produces a mass of crops from traditionals, such as salad greens, carrots, broccoli, celery, leeks, onions, garlic, pumpkins, rhubarb, peas and beans, to kale, celtuce (a varietal lettuce), Japanese turnips, pea tendrils and heirloom tomatoes.
One of the biggest attractions for this young achiever is interaction with the adventurous chefs who buy the produce.
“They’re willing to try anything if it’s new,” Fox says. “Sometimes one chef will do something with an ingredient and the others will think, ‘Oh that’s really good’ and want it too. There are definitely fashions in food.
“If I am trying to get people interested in a vegetable, I’ll probably go on Instagram. I’ll also take samples in to the restaurants because we work pretty closely with the chefs and get to know how their menus work.”
The chefs’ hot crop of the moment, she says, are shishito peppers – finger-length sweet East Asian peppers ideal for frying.
Fox is adamant she wants to be still farming in 10 years and hopes to one day have her own land. She is also keen to encourage other young people to follow farm careers and is currently looking to hire workers for Somerset Heritage Produce.
Original article by Tony Fawcett, The Weekly Times, September 5, 2018.
Photo by Chloe Smith.