It’s certainly the case with Theres and Jamie Drake’s fresh produce business at Boorcan in south-west Victoria, which they run alongside a dairy farm.

Theres and Jamie Drake enjoy raising their children Tim, Gemma and Rebecca on the land.

Last year the Drakes moved into the former Model Barn site on the Princes Highway between Terang and Camperdown, which is now home to their fresh produce business, while the dairy operates from a leased farm and two leased-out paddocks.

Theres was born in Switzerland and Jamie in New Zealand but they have come to call Australia home as they run two successful businesses and a self-sufficient lifestyle.

They also have chooks and beehives, bake and preserve just about everything and home-school their three children, ensuring it’s a sustainable family affair.

“We both love nature and a Swiss horticulturalist and a New Zealand dairy farmer made a perfect match,” Theres said.

They settled in Australia in 2010, initially taking up a dairy farm management position and later leasing farms.

Throughout this time, they also grew and preserved their own food, creating meals according to the season.

A successful farm lease has enabled the Drakes to continue dairy farming while investing in land for their fresh produce business.

Their children have been involved in all aspects of the farm and food growing. The family’s love of growing fresh produce was turning into a business.

“We always enjoyed growing our own food and always grew as much as we were able to,” Therese said.

“We gradually added more and more to become more self-sufficient. We didn’t even realise we were doing it. It just gradually snowballed.

“We added an orchard, chooks, beehives, a cream separator to make butter, started making our own cheese and preserves and added more strips for the patch, with bore or tank water being used for the produce.”

Pretty soon they were making more than they needed and started giving away surplus produce before turning to the Terang markets and later coming up with a home outlet in the form of a fridge and table on the side of the road.

With demand continuing to grow, they decided to build a small shop on the side of the road but when the farm owner last year decided to sell, the Drakes needed a new venue for the vegie enterprise.

Theres and Jamie Drake.

The Model Barn shed, house and surrounding five hectares provided the solution, allowing them to lease a combined 225 hectares for their dairy enterprise and concentrate the produce business on the highway site.

Theres completed agrifood evolution and digital harvest courses and they formally launched Drake’s Fresh Produce’s website last year.

The business has been growing and evolving over the past four years, with three years at the former farm in Roycroft Rd before moving to the current site a year ago.

“We’ve been able to learn from mistakes we made here in not understanding the draining of the water,” Theres said.

“I’m really motivated for this year because we were able to pinpoint the issues and we will definitely improve.”

The combination of two businesses works well — though they both face similar seasonal challenges.

“Once it gets dry, you have to be quick with the planting. We’d get up at five and we’d be out in the patch. We’d do breakfast, then orders and schooling, and back out planting,” Theres said.

“It’s a very busy life but it’s good. It’s a real blessing to do the vegetables because we can entertain the kids with something meaningful. It’s 100 per cent a family business.”

Planting seedlings clashes with cutting silage on the dairy farm, but they are managing to balance the competing interests.

“As the vegies get quiet, we also get quieter in the dairy so there’s time in April for family holidays,” Theres said.

“The vegie patch is quiet during calving in May and June. We’re together for that.”

Drake’s Fresh Produce is based around seasonal produce.

“We grow what we can according to the season,” Theres said, with about one hectare of their home site dedicated to the plots.

Coming into spring, they focus on spring onions, beetroot, beans, lettuces. Mid-November when the time is right and the night temperatures are warm enough (minimum 10 degrees), they start on tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, pumpkins, capsicums and egg plant.

In the cooler seasons they pick berries and fruits, including strawberries, boysenberries and red currants, something of a rarity in the region. They then do plums, apples, pears and quinces.

At the peak of summer, they plant the first lot of winter vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbages. They plant about 1000 potatoes and carrots are also popular.

Rounding out the offering are cut flowers.

“With the planting, it’s important that there has to be ongoing successive planting to make it happen. For example, silver beet I would be planting every three weeks,” Theres said.

“You also have to flip land. You can’t grow everything at the same time. You have to make sure you grow things in different places.

“We let a parcel of land rest and top it up with compost which we make here on site. We’re all about sustainability.”

Drake’s Fresh Produce has adopted the logo Patch to Plate and continues to evolve.

“We’re really strong about patch to plate and we’re doing it together; as a family,” Theres said.

“I truly believe we were called to work on the land. We enjoy what we do and we’re excited about the future. If you chip away, things fall in place.”

The barn opens on Saturdays from 11am to 4pm with juices, baked goods like biscuits and cakes, sourdough cinnamon scrolls and sourdough breads, preserves and cordials.

The business is also being included in the Otway Harvest Trail.

“The community is really behind us and supports us, which is really motivating for us to keep going and live off the land,” Theres said.

The former Model Barn shed gives the Drakes more scope for their fresh produce business.