Gooseberry Hill Farm is located in the Adelaide Hills, 5km from Meadows. Our 40 hectare farm was once part of a larger farm, which was bought by Fred and Nora Meissner in 1955. Farming activities at this time included dairying, clover seed harvesting, potatoes and sheep production.
The road into the property is named after Fred and Nora to recognize their considerable contribution to the district and the Meadows’ township.
In 1976 the property was divided with the ‘back paddock’, as it was known to the family at that stage, becoming Gooseberry Hill Farm. At this time there was very little native vegetation on the property – mainly some stands of stringy bark on an adjoining easement and isolated red gums.
Since 1976 the farm has been steadily planted using the Trees for Life scheme. Tree lines and shelter belts have been established around all the paddocks and native vegetation now occupies approximately 4 hectares of the property. The biodiversity results of this planting are evidenced by the presence of a number of species of woodland birds that are declining in numbers in the Mt Lofty Ranges such as the Superb Fairy-wren, Silvereye, Red-browed Finch and Eastern Spinebill.
Infrastructure improvements to the property include hay sheds, the mud brick farm house, plastic poly tunnels, nursery, dams and other irrigation. Current farm activities include cut flowers, plant nursery, bulbs, hay, lambs for meat, wood turning and seeds [what we sell].
Approach to Farming
With family interests in agriculture, soil conservation and natural resources management then it follows that we have a strong interest in sustainable farm management. For us, sustainable land use translates to understanding the land and ensuring that land is used within its capability and continually improved.
The vegetable seedling and herb production in the nursery is certified organic with Organic Growers Australia. Certification requires us to use only allowable inputs, which means using natural fertilizers and sprays. We are lucky to have a healthy population of native frogs around the nursery, which give us a helping hand with pest management.
The remainder of the farm is mainly managed organically with maintenance of soil cover, minimal use of chemical sprays, efficient irrigation practices and extensive use of natural composts. Revegetation using local species is an annual activity where we look to improve shelter for our livestock and flowers, protect sensitive features of the landscape and create corridors for our native biodiversity.
The property is on undulating land with soils that are mainly loam over clay with four areas that are deep sand. We make the most of these differences, for example, using the deep sand areas to grow proteas, which don’t like to have wet feet.
Working with the land and the differing microclimates, created by the tree lines and plastic poly tunnels, we can provide the best spot and ‘stretch’ the flowering period for different varieties. Having grown flowers on the property for more than 20 years, we have learnt to understand the requirements of a broad range of flowers. Of the 100 + varieties that we sell throughout the year, the majority have low inputs. This is a plus for the environment, keeps production costs down and saves time.
We attend 4 farmer’s markets, which matches our interests in selling fresh, locally grown produce direct to our customers. The benefits include a relaxed and friendly environment, direct feedback from our customers and, of course, the opportunity to get a fair price for our produce.