Despite growing up in Sydney, James Daaboul says he has always been drawn to the idea of living on the land. A couple of years ago he turned that dream into a reality, leaving behind a stable job as a set builder and carpenter for greener pastures in the Northern Rivers.
‘When I was living in the city, my passion for the land started with gardening and growing veggies at home and it just snowballed from there,’ James says. ‘As time went by, I became hooked and really wanted to connect more deeply with the natural world and move to a regional area. Farming seemed to hold all the cards for me to achieve that.’
So, with only a bit of home gardening experience under his belt, the keen 28-year-old’s first foray into farming was as a volunteer at the Conscious Ground market garden in Myocum. After honing his ‘agri’ skills, James took on his next challenge – working at Kennedy’s Lane Farm in Ewingsdale where he swiftly progressed to farm manager.
Kennedy’s Lane Farm offers James not only two acres of certified organic market garden to get his hands into, but also the opportunity to soak up years’ worth of experience and knowledge from the farm’s owner (and farmer), Uri Leshem.
‘Uri offers a lot of mentoring, which is great and it’s a mutually beneficial relationship – I learn a lot from Uri and the farm remains productive,’ says James. ‘We aim to meet once a week to discuss plans for the market garden, working together to see how it can benefit both of us and the farm.’
Under the tutorage of Uri, James grows everything from cauliflower, carrots, broccoli and beetroot to corn, leeks, celery and leafy greens. All of which are certified organic and available at Byron and Bangalow Farmers Markets every week.
While the leap into farming has been a steep learning curve, James says it is not one that he regrets.
‘Young farmers have to sacrifice a lot when it comes to their social lives. I’m in bed about 8-8.30pm every night, but I think it’s worth it. And as creative as my job was in set building, it wasn’t for the good of the people. Whereas growing food and feeding people is just such a worthwhile thing to be doing with your life. It has given me a purpose. So even though it’s hard work, I feel like it’s a worthwhile endeavour and one that is valued.’
You can find James and the Kennedy’s Lane stall at Byron Farmers Market and Bangalow Farmers Market.
Byron Farmers Market, Thursdays 7-11am at Butler St Reserve and Bangalow Farmers Market, Saturdays 7-11am behind the Bangalow pub.