In the Southern Tablelands of rural New South Wales, nestled between the beautiful Tinderry Mountains to the West and Tallaganda State Forest to the East, sits a little market garden with a million-dollar view.
Emily Yarra (31) and Michael Kobier (33) run Brightside Produce, a small but thriving farm providing seasonal, chemical free produce to discerning chefs and families throughout the Canberra region.
The young couple purchased the property only two years ago, and have worked tirelessly since then to create a business capable of supporting themselves and their bubbly 10-month-old son Felix.
Wandering the paths of their garden we’re serenaded by birds and the rumbling of thunder clouds circling the mountains all around us, threatening to drench us with what Emily refers to as ‘money that falls from the sky.’
While their property spans 128 acres, the market garden sites snuggly on just a quarter acre of land on a small plateau.
Standing at the garden gate the view before us almost seems painted by an artist’s brush. Vegetables grow in near perfect rows in various heights and differing shades of green and red, while rows of flowering Queen Anne’s Lace and Coriander gone to seed are alive with hundreds of bees.
While the weather during our visit was mild, Emily is quick to point out that the farm is situated 950-metres above sea level in a mountainous, cool-temperate climate that can be unpredictable and provide extremely difficult growing conditions.
‘We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into when we bought this property. We can have 40 degrees one day and then a frost the next. It’s been a huge challenge trying to figure out how to grow in this climate.’
Both Emily and Michael grew up nearby and chose the property for its proximity to family. ‘I guess we didn’t have much experience, and didn’t know what we should be looking for in a block of land. This was the first property we looked at and we just thought it was beautiful. Everybody was telling us we were crazy to try and grow out here, so ever since then we’ve just been determined to prove them wrong,’ laughs Emily.
While they both started out on very different career paths – Emily studied law at the Australian National University and Michael worked as a sheet metal apprentice – the couple’s interest in farming grew during their time travelling around North America and Europe, volunteering on organic farms.
‘I think our time overseas, working on different farms and staying in small communities that were really off-beat, showed us that there is another way to live. You don’t have to choose a nine-to-five job and a big mortgage. You can still live a full, healthy, happy life by choosing another path.’