Meet the farmers: Nina Marie Lunde and Rowan Francis.
As part of a new series on the Y.V.Fresh blog we are bringing you a ‘behind the scenes’ look into the lives of the farmers behind our berries. The series aims to show the hard work that goes into planting, growing and harvesting our fruit and the fulfillment these farmers gain from doing what they love. Today we introduce you to Nina and Rowan, first generation blueberry farmers from Victoria.
Nina Marie Lunde and Rowan Francis are part of the Y.V.Fresh family. They own and run ‘Blueberry Hill Farm’, a 24 hectare property located in Kinglake, Victoria. The farm boasts five hectares of berry plants that include Blackberries, Red Currants, Blueberries and the premium and rare Krimson Kiss berry. Large covers shelter the berry plants as a way to protect the delicate fruit from birdlife feasting on the crops. Rowan points out that these birds account for 50 per cent of the farms average annual losses.
Nina arrived to Australia as a backpacker 1986. By 1989, she had planted her first berry plant in the Kinglake region of Victoria. Rowan, a graduate from Melbourne University's Agricultural College, was originally a dairy farmer, but quit dairy for berry and helped Nina with the setup of Blueberry Hill farm. The farm has grown in spades since then.
The downfall and new beginnings.
In 2009, the duo were left devastated as the ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires ripped through the region destroying their entire property, bar the house, which they fought through the flames to save. The two thought that was the end of their business, but with darkness, comes kindness and generosity. The community volunteered over 2500 hours of their time to help get the farm cleaned up. This inspired the two to make Blueberry Hill Farm better than ever.
The farm has continued to grow and strive since then. Being part of the Y.V.Fresh community has allowed Nina and Rowan to share information and resources amongst other farmers within the community as a support system. Through the good times and the bad, there is nothing more Nina loves to do than sit on her tractor and admire the lines of green pasture she loves so much in front of her. “It gives me the biggest buzz” she says. We couldn’t agree more.
*Information and image provided by Aussie Farmers Direct.