From biking to brassicas, Alex is loving farm life
FOUR years ago, Alexandra Vanstone lived on the Gold Coast with her husband and worked semi-professionally as a cyclist.
Now, her days start at the crack of dawn and end at nightfall - and making sure she has a weekend is a challenge.
When her husband, Justin Vanstone, suggested the pair move to Crowley Vale to move onto his family's farm, Alexandra was enthusiastic but the lifestyle was new to her.
"I had never pictured it but I love the lifestyle and it definitely keeps us on our toes,” Alexandra said.
Fourth in their lineage of farmers, Justin and Zac Vanstone grew up on the family farm.
A year after moving back and working on the property, the brothers bought out their parents.
"We were quite young when we started running the farm... We were early 20s when they decided to take it all on,” Alexandra said.
Together with Zac, the pair run the farm, rotating the crop across three properties and about 300 acres.
At Vanstone Produce, the trio grow shallots, broccolini and silverbeet.
For Alexandra, a typical day involves anything from checking the quality of the produce to ensuring everything is labelled correctly.
"I'm a bit of an all-rounder,” she said.
"During the last couple of years, I've worked outside and done the pipes and set up the ground for planting - I have a go at everything.”
Starting bright and early, Alexandra's work day begins at 6.30am.
Alexandra said the biggest challenge she had faced on the farm, which presently employed about 150 staff, was finding the right staff so the trio could have a break on weekends.
"People who can consistently come and do the job so we don't have to do a 24/7 job,” she said.
"We want to be able to have a weekend and a life outside of the farm and we want our employees to have that, too... That's the biggest struggle.”
She said the drought had impacted the way they carried out work.
"We're struggling at the moment. It's hard to keep the crop consistent and growing the way you would typically want it to grow because we can't water as much as we want,” she said.
"It's hard and it's getting a lot harder now. We didn't struggle as much over summer but coming into winter and still having no rain is really starting to take its toll.”