Life as a chef in high end restaurants in Italy, London and Melbourne including Gordon Ramsay and Crown, is a far cry from a smallholding growing organic produce in country Victoria, but Daneile Tarasco wouldn’t have it any other way. With partner Olivia, who herself left behind a corporate career in music and publishing, established Meraki Organic Farm on six acres of rich organic soil in Newlyn, near Daylesford, which they share with fifty chooks, two dogs and Olivia’s teenage son.
Meraki is a Greek word often used to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love – when you put “something of yourself into what you’re doing, whatever it may be”. The word not only connects these two passionate people with Olivia’s heritage, but also describes how they feel about their work. Daniele says; “By following nature and working with organic farming practices we produce higher nutritional food, promote natural growth cycles and eventually increase the land’s fertility. We want to leave something better than how we found it”.
Newlyn has a long heritage of potato farming, which still continues, amidst several new housing developments and smaller holdings like Meraki Organic Farm, but rather than creating conflict, this mix has created a co-operative community that Daniele and Olivia happily fit into. Looking ahead, they plan to develop big yield seed saving together with heirloom and old varieties of vegetables. As the farm grows, they would like to run workshops and training programs and enhance the knowledge of organic and biodiversity farming.
It has taken a little while to grow sufficient produce to share with the broader community, however they plan to start selling at regional markets soon and already supply eggs to selected outlets locally.
Farming organically is not easy. It is labour intensive and subject – like all farming – to the vagaries of weather and fluctuating markets, but the determination to succeed in their own lives and to put something back into the land and their community will no doubt see Meraki Organic Farm flourish. Learn more by visiting www.merakifarm.com.au.