Rose Hawkins of Tenterfield Creek Organics is ‘a mother, grandmother, organic garlic and flower farmer, gardener, happy cook, yoga teacher, retreat facilitator, Indian textile lover and recently published author.’
She moved to her property on Jukambal and Ngarabal Country three years ago, plugging back into the time she spent wandering country towns and remote cattle stations as a child in the 60s (she wrote about this life in her new memoir here!).
Amongst the productive garlic and flower beds, olive groves, rambling paths, wood ovens built from sandstone and ancient trees, Rose also runs her own yoga retreat and textiles company. This magical property hosts all elements of her being.
Read on for more about her gardening life.
Hello Rose! First of all, Where is your farm and what’s it like?
Our farm is situated five kilometres north of Tenterfield, just South of the Queensland border on the Granite Belt. We have views of Bald Rock Mountain National Park to the North and Mount McKenzie to the West.
Running through our 135 acres is the pristine Tenterfield Creek, where platypus can be seen regularly. There is a koala corridor running all the way from the National Park to our creek, and intermittently we have a koala visitor in our gum tree right next to the house.
We are a certified biodynamic and organic farm growing garlic and flowers. There is some cultivated land for growing our garlic and natural forest corridors which are buffers and wildlife habitats.
Do you know anything about the history of the property?
The previous owners were Irish and both farmers and gardeners, Dick and Dora. They were very much into creating a food source as well as a beautiful garden. When they moved here in 1987 it was just a block of land, and they built everything that is now here. Tenterfield has an abundance of rocks, and they used them throughout the garden for garden bed borders and walls, arches and other structures. Dick actually built Dora a stone yurt in the garden on top of a huge boulder for her to meditate in, which is now my yoga studio.
They started to grow garlic in 1989 and went organic in 2001. When we bought the property they mentored us in the skills of growing garlic. I decided I wanted to grow flowers when I first saw the beauty of the large Russian garlic flowers covering our garlic paddock. We grow both Oriental purple garlic and giant Russian garlic.
What is your personal relationship to gardening? Has it always been something you’ve done?
I would have to say my first relationship with gardening was as a food source. Having grown up in remote areas all our produce was grown in our own vegetable garden and there was always a variety of fruit trees.I have never lost the exciting feeling of picking a piece of fruit from a tree or a lettuce from the vegetable garden.
Having said that, I think I am driven by beauty! Trees are very important to me now and I love nothing more than a colourful and scented garden. Wherever I’ve lived, the garden has been as important as the house. You can renovate or build a house pretty quickly, but it takes years to establish a beautiful garden.
how has the property evolved in the time you’ve been here?
Our move to the farm and to Tenterfield evolved through our desire to have more space around us and to be able to grow our own organic food and be relatively self-sufficient. We wanted something organic, four distinct seasons, fresh air, fresh running water, not too isolated, not too far from the sea, (we are only 150 kms inland from Byron Bay), and close to a quaint country town with a sense of community. And Tenterfield had it all!
What are you passionate about when it comes to your flowers, garlic and other produce?
Beauty and bounty! I love beautiful gardens, especially if you can eat them too!
In everything I do my main concern is that it is ethical and sustainable. For years garlic has been imported into Australia from China where it is grown and processed under toxic conditions with the use of chemicals. We eat this. The flowers you buy in shops are often imported and once again grown with a strong usage of toxic chemicals. The first thing you do when receiving a bunch of flowers is smell them, taking in a huge whiff of chemical spray.
I believe we can all help towards creating a sustainable future for our land if we buy local, go to your local farmers market and also try to create our own backyard or balcony gardens growing what we can, even if it’s just a few herbs or flowers.
Rose’s self-published book, ‘Coming Home’ is out now and available for purchase here.