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Young family looks to strawberries as a way of getting into farming

Ollie Frost, reaches to grab a strawberry from a raised bed on his family's farm.
Sam Frost loses more of her strawberries to her kids than birds.

ABC Rural: Jess Davis

High land prices are a massive barrier to young people getting into farming, so when the Frost family decided to move back to their home town of Frances and start farming they had to think outside the square.

Sam Frost said she decided to go with strawberries, because they were hard to come buy and they could be farmed intensively.

"I like strawberries and I had trouble buying a strawberry that was red and not half green," she said.

"We couldn't afford to buy a lot of land and do broadacre farming, which is what my husband would ideally like to do."

The Frost family bought a small plot of land right next to the primary school in the small town of Frances on the border between South Australia and Victoria.

"We do open hydroponic strawberries. So rather than planting them in the ground, where you need more soil for crop rotation, we've put them on raised tables," she said.

Sam Frost, a strawberry grower from Frances, prunes her crop
The Frost's strawberries are grown hydroponically on raised tables.

ABC Rural: Jess Davis

The strawberries are in rows at chest and head height, and grow in plastic bags with a coconut husk base.

But Ms Frost said it was not a common way of growing strawberries and she has learnt a lot from Google.

"It's been very helpful," she said.

"They do this a lot overseas but they do it in glass huts, which we'd love to do but we just can't afford it at this stage."

Ms Frost said the raised beds get around the need to do crop rotations, which require a lot more land.

"We've gone onto the raised beds and that eliminates the virus problem," she said.

"The reason you rotate is so you don't get a build-up of viruses and you've got to fumigate the soils.

"Also, so I don't have to bend over picking them."

Sam Frost picks ripe strawberries on her farm at Frances
Sam Frost decided to grow strawberries because she could not find any good ones in the shops.

Supplied: Sam Frost

Frances is not an ideal climate for strawberries and last year Ms Frost's crop suffered from sunburn, but she was finding ways around the hurdles.

"We got a grant from the Naracoorte Lucindale council to help us put up shade cloth," she said.

"On the really hot days we'll pull them out and that'll help stop the sun scorch."

Outside the Frost house sits a classic yellow school bus and Ms Frost spends her mornings and afternoons driving the local kids to and from school.

"It works in well, I can take my kids with me and it just gives me a little extra spending money and pays some strawberry bills," she said.

"The worst kids on the bus are my own because they think they can get away with more."

Sam Frost with her son Hugo in her arms standing in front of the yellow school bus she drives
Driving the school bus is a good way for Ms Frost to earn a bit of extra cash on top of her strawberries.

ABC Rural: Jess Davis