- Meet Mike & Joyce
Meet Mike & Joyce
It is really important that you know who Mike was and who I am because we both really meant it when we said 'if we sell it, we use it on the farm ourselves" and now that Mike is gone we still really mean it.
The Gundaroo Tiller story started in 1987 when Mike took a retirement package from what was then the Bureau of Mineral Resources. We had two tiny children and I was going crazy as a mum at home on, what was then, a quite isolated property near the village of Gundaroo in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia. We were both geologists with a love of living in the bush, growing food and eating well but we also need to make a living. I had no idea how I was going to go back to the world of Academics, Mike, who was 19 years older than me wanted to shed the mantle of vertebrate palaeontologist and retreat quietly to the beautiful house that he had built in the country. The reality was we both needed to keep working but we needed to change direction. I wanted to become a farmer, Mike wanted to start a small business. We managed to do both and for over 30 years we ran Allsun Farm and Gundaroo Tiller off this small rural retreat close to Canberra.
More than 75% of the farm is wooded and will always remain so.
We have a sacrificial area for food production - 1/2 acre under intensive cultivation, 25 acres of unimproved native pasture grazed by lots of wallabies and kangaroos and 2 acres of modified pasture used for strip grazing by 100 laying hens and a few pigs.
Allsun farm has always been known for selling vegetables, free range eggs, pigs and pork. We market our produce directly to subscription customers and restaurants. The vegetables are seasonal and because the pig operation is so small it is unpredictable when we have either stud pigs or pork available.Eggs from our pastured poultry are available all year.
Our whole emphasis is on fresh, high quality produce, flavour, nutritional density and relationship marketing. The greatest influence on our operation has come from our friends Eliot Coleman who lives in Maine, USA and is the author of "The New Organic Grower", Joel Salatin the inspirational author from Polyface Farm in Virginia, USA and Joy Larkcom who knows so much about vegetables and herbs her brain should be bursting.
Our vegetable and egg operation led us into the tool and equipment business. A lack of suitable tools for small scale growers was very clear at the onset and this convinced us that there was a market niche for the best quality tools and equipment. The tools that we sell come from Australia, Switzerland, Korea, USA and the United Kingdom. In every case we only sell tools that we use on our own farm. We can give no better recommendation.
As Mike approached 80 his eyesight started to fail then his general health but what never failed was his enthusiasm for life and living and that was how we got into pigs.
He finally won a 25 year battle to get serious about pigs on the farm and what started as a way to to eat some ethical pork ended in a love affair with Berkshire pigs. Allsun is not a farm that can sustainably support even a small free range pig breeding enterprise however we do our best to keep a small herd of really excellent quality Berkshires. Long before I met him Mike had considerable expertise breeding Bull Terrier dogs, breeding pigs is not all that much different.
With his knowledge, my eyes and a lot of help from the legendary breeders in SA, Colin & Joy Leinert we took out best pig in show Adelaide Royal 2016. I still reflect in a dazed sort of way on that incredible moment. So much joy from such amazing animals and another layer to add to the production system on our farm.
Whilst life has pulled me in different directions since Mikes passing and I have now found myself enjoying a teaching role and inspiring the next generation of growers on the South Coast of NSW. I am still responsible for the day to day running of both the farm and Gundaroo Tiller but thankfully i am supported by our two sons and their delightful wives. All four of them bring so much energy to my life and the life of the farm and the tool business. We are all striving to ensure that you will be productive in whatever enterprise you are involved in from a small back yard to a diverse, sustainable farm.