Two years ago Tasha Shoo and her husband, Ben, bought 10 acres of land an hour's drive from Melbourne, Australia, and moved there from the city with their three children and a dream of raising the food they eat.
With chickens, pigs, beehives, and garden plots, the experiment was a success—and intoxicating. After 18 months of harvesting her own salads and curing her own bacon and eating strawberries that really taste like strawberries, Shoo embarked on a second phase of farming: She and Ben launched a project called A Plot in Common, digging six extra edible-garden beds that they offered to share with neighbors.
Word got around. Australian photographer Tara Pearce, whose Outer Towners site chronicles the stories of people who've chosen the country over city life, came by with her camera to take a look. Here's what she saw:
Photography by Tara Pearce except where noted.
Above: Shoo raises her family's meat, vegetables, and fruit on the farm, which also has a small orchard, prompting Pearce to describe her as a "modern farmer" on Outer Towners. Shoo's husband, Ben, works as a designer from a small studio on the property.
Above: On the farm is a small cottage and several other buildings, including a barn. Photograph via A Plot in Common.
Above: Netting protects the crops from rabbits and other hungry varmints.
Above: In addition to her own garden plots, Shoo has created an additional six beds that neighbors may use for free to plant their own food. "More and more people are becoming interested in where their food comes from, but not everyone has the space or knowledge to grow their own," she says. "The idea for A Plot in Common is to explore ways in which we can share our farm, the space, and what we have learned."
Above: Purple cauliflower.
Above: "What can you do here that you can't do in the big city?" Tara Pearce asked Shoo.
"Last Sunday we drove up a nearby mountain and had a picnic in the snow, went down to a tasting in a vineyard, and took a bottle home," Shoo said. "Then we made pasta with our own homegrown eggs, beef, and vegetables."
Above: What appeals most about living on a farm, Shoo said, is the ability to "go slow, spend more time doing less, and explore the things that you would usually pass right by."
Above: The farm, located in the town of Lauriston (pop. 538), is surrounded by rolling hills.
Above: Harvesting rosemary and collecting eggs.
Above: Home-cured meats. "We had quite a bit of pork in the freezer from last year's pigs," Shoo said. "We dreamed of salami, prosciutto, bacon—anything cured, really—but they seemed a little out of our league. Funny how you put things in the 'too hard' basket. It's just taking that initial step, isn't it? Bacon was our first step."