The Hobart

Kate Field

by Lily Whiting
Kate Field

A specialist at the Royal Hobart Hospital, a goat farmer and a Mum, Kate Field now adds skin care to her list!

Where are you from and where do you live now? I grew up in inner Melbourne, but moved to Hobart for University in 1997. I met my partner Iain in my final year of medical school, and 20 years later, via three years in Darwin and Sydney each, we came home in 2012. We live 50km east of Hobart at Copping.

Tell us a little about your work? I work as an Emergency Medicine Specialist at the Royal Hobart Hospital, as well as working and living on our farm, Leap Farm. Occasionally I help Iain in the cheese factory (Tongola Cheese). I also hand make Leapful skin care products.

How did you get into skin care? We are seasonal milkers, so we only produce cheese for about nine months of the year. In the “off season” we tend to do a lot of farm projects. Even when you wear gloves, jobs like fencing trash your hands. In the spring we’d go back to making cheese, and the skin on our hands would heal and recover quickly. We realised that it’s the wonderful properties in the whey that are so restorative. So two years ago I started researching and developing a skin care product using the whey, which is otherwise fed to the neighbour’s pigs or spray onto our paddocks. We firmly believe in minimising any waste from our enterprises, and this is taking a waste product that’s full of really valuable nutrients, and creating a functional and luxurious product, that’s also environmen­tally responsible.

Environmental practices have been integral in your approach on the farm. What goes on behind the scenes to keep Leap Farm carbon positive? This has been our greatest achievement so far. We sequester enough carbon in our soil to offset the emissions that 60 average Aussie households emit each year – after we’ve offset our own emissions! We have increased our organic soil carbon to a whopping 9.5% by farming with nature rather than against it. We are dung beetle-friendly, encourage diversity in our pasture so that there is always something growing and feeding the soil microbes and we’ve fenced off remnant forest to protect it from our livestock for native species to flourish. We minimise energy use wherever possible, such as immedi­ately pasteurising the warm milk rather than cooling it first. We get all our energy in the sunny months from solar and PV units, and export to the grid. Excitingly we just ordered a new Polaris EV for the farm, to replace our petrol one.

Congratulations on being a finalist for the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award for Tasmania. I’m so honoured to be a finalist in the AgriFutures RWA. Women are often the silent, hardest workers on the farm, who are just getting on with what needs to be done. Without women, there wouldn’t be rural communities. We’re owners, employees, board members, directors, marketing managers, distribu­tors, scientists, mothers, volunteers and so much more. Without rural women, there wouldn’t be the productivity from rural industries that our nation relies on economically.

Favourite podcast or tv show? I don’t have much time for TV, but I do tend to make sure I get to Gardening Australia, Grand Designs and Gruen (clearly I’m an ABC tragic). My favourite podcast is Matt Bevan’s podcast. And can I plug my own podcast here, The Curious Farmer?

Secret vice? Admiring velvety muzzles (goat kids, and my dog’s in particular).

What gets your goat (pardon the pun)? Climate change sceptics and deniers.

What was your first job? Check-out chick at Food Plus (the local grocery store that was attached to BP in the olden days) – I was 13 and 9 months!

Your favourite place for…

Breakfast: Machine Laundry Cafe, favourite coffee near work is at Two Folk (where I read this magazine!).

Lunch: Park Cafe in Dodges Ferry.

Dinner: Too many to name, but I love Sonny and Peppina!

How do you name your herd? We pick a theme, and go with that. Themes we’ve had over the years include Heroines (“Amelia” after Amelia Earhart, “Wanda” after Wonder woman), Local Ladies (from our district, Hi Meg Bignell!), the colour red (eg “Rouge”), Herbs and Spices (“Arnica”, “Salt”, “Nutmeg”), children’s story book characters (“Big Ears”), Islands (“Tassie” of course, “Macca”), native Tassie flora “Globi” for Eucalyptus globulus, the Tassie Blue Gum), Shakespeare Characters (“Flute”, “Gertie”) and this year, our theme is Fruit (“Apple”, “Strawb”, “Jack” and of course, you can’t have all these fruit without “Jam”).

Do you have a favourite personality or two? Always! We all have our own favourites. Phryngo (named after Phryne Fischer) is definitely one, and I rather like Snug (and her kid I’ve nicknamed Snuglet). Bertha and I definitely don’t get on very well, I call her “Batshit Bertha”, however no-one else seems to have a problem with her!

Parting words? I’ve met a lot of people on their death-beds, and none of them has ever said “I wish I could live long enough to watch the end of that TV show.”

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August 2022

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