Nelligen has been a humble start for self-taught farmer Jess O’Shea whose dream is to replicate Moruya’s SAGE Market in Batemans Bay.
Jess started growing veggies at her mum’s old farm in Termeil and needed somewhere to sell them, but couldn’t make it down to Moruya every week so she decided to start her own market.
“SAGE have a really good market, I would like to be as big as them one day but I don’t think Batemans Bay is ready for that so we are growing,” said Jess.
The Batemans Bay Makers and Growers Market supports local growers and makers including artists, jewellers and bakers. Hot tip: the pies are amazing!
After separating from her husband, Jess and her two kids moved from Canberra to Batemans Bay and took a punt on 20 acres of tree-filled land in Nelligen.
“I’m very new to farming,” says Jess who’s parents were always passionate about gardening. “I went that step further and started reading all the permaculture books, I practised with my garden as much as I could.”
“It’s been a lot of work to get going in Nelligen but people keep donating things to me that I am so thankful for.”
Jess sets her market stall up like a community table where she encourages even backyard growers to bring in produce. An elderly lady has been bringing in pumpkins and getting a real thrill out of making a few bucks a week.
“She brings me another pumpkin and I think, I’ve probably got too many pumpkins but I will buy another just for the look on her face – it’s really rewarding. I really want to get people out there growing, especially kids.
Having grown up in Nelligen myself, I watched my parents feed us from the garden. At that time I couldn’t imagine life any other way. Over the years though the home garden has become a hobby for the time rich with the majority of families buying from franchise supermarkets. The opportunity to slow down and consider a bigger picture is lost.
“I guess it’s easier,” Jess says, “You go to one place and you can get everything but, you get what you pay for and what you are putting into your body, if it’s full of pesticides you’re not doing yourself any favours.”
Although Jess’s farm isn’t certified organic, her farming practices are.
“I haven’t used any pesticides or fertilisers on the farm yet,” Jess proudly explains, “I have noticed our broad beans are covered in bugs and I’m assessing what to do about that,” Jess laughs as she tells the story of hosing the bugs off unsuccessfully.
“I would like to eventually have this place certified organic, it does take a long time and cost a lot of money so I’m being really careful about what comes into the farm. I’m also looking at permaculture, crop rotation and stuff like that, so nothing stays in the same place for too long.”
Batemans Bay Makers and Growers Market is on every Thursday from 11:30 am – 2 pm at the Batemans Bay Community Centre, where you will find Jess selling her fresh, pesticide-free, local produce.