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Borja Valls – Market Gardener

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borja
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Clockwise from above: Borja Valls harvesting; chickens on the farm; produce ready for sale; Soruya with her lettuces; and broccoli available at farm gate shop. Photos by Common2us


borja

Common2us is made up of a small team of young farmers from Spain and Australia who are passionate and driven to produce fresh, local, sustainable organic food for their Sydney community. They focus on producing highest quality food for their community and believe that ‘healthy’ food is grown and distributed in ways that benefit not just human health, but the health of the environment, the community and the producers who’ve grown it.

Describe what you do at Common2us?

Common2us is an urban market garden in a residential suburb, only thirty kilometres from the centre of Sydney. We are as close as you can get to the city and have a two hectare lot. We grow a wide variety of fruits and vegies throughout the year, and sell directly to customers.

The most important thing for us is to find a model that will allow us as farmers to live well, and to create good living conditions for ourselves, so that we can lead by example and attract young people to farming. At the same time, it is important to us to build relationships with our customers, so that we can give them a sense of being closer to what they eat and who produces it.

What inspired you to start farming?

I am an agriculture engineer and have always been interested in the social and political aspects of society and agriculture. Farming is just one aspect of that, and we do much more than that here: the thirty hours I spend farming each week also provide time for me to relax and meditate.

Why do you believe it’s important to sell your produce directly to the customer?

The most important part of this project is the direct relationship created with customers. I feel that people are losing real human contact with each other; the supermarket system is a clear example of this. Our customers become friends, and producing food for them is a great aspect of our friendship. It also helps them to understand how food is produced, and the cost of its production.

What are the different ways that you sell your produce to your customers?

We sell our produce through our farm-gate stall (Mondays – Saturdays), farmers’ markets (Fox studio’s EQ Village Markets in Sydney [Moore Park] on Wednesdays and Saturdays) and buyers’ groups or food cooperatives such as Ooooby, Alfalfa House, Nourishing Source, Nourishing Mountains and Bronte.

Do you make a living from farming?

We do make a decent, happy living out of what we do. Soraya, Michael Zagoridis and I live entirely off it; and there are some casual workers who also do markets and are very happy with what they receive. We make enough money to cover our expenses and interests; we are rich socially; we make a healthy living; and we feel great knowing that we are adding a little bit to our society, consistent with our values and ideology.

What would you say to other people thinking of getting into farming?

There is a great opportunity in Australia to make a happy living while farming. Doing what we do here allows us to have anything we need, from good food to a good social environment. I think that the happier person is not the one who has more, but the person who needs less!

For further information see www.common2us.com

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