Fiona’s penmanship takes Tasmanian lifestyle, food and wine to readers across the world
When Fiona Stocker moved to Tasmania, she had no idea she’d be helping to set up a gourmet farm and food business, and writing a book about her tree-change experience.
Previously, Fiona and husband Oliver lived in Brisbane, where Oliver ran a cabinet making business. Upon arriving at their five-acre property in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley, he built a workshop and set about making bespoke kitchens for local residents.
At that point, Fiona was preoccupied with family. “When we arrived I was seven months pregnant with our second child. Moving interstate felt like nesting on an epic scale, but I really wanted us to put down roots in the place I wanted to raise my children, and that was in a semi-rural location.”
The Stockers chose the West Tamar for its small acreage plots and its close proximity to Launceston, which provided a good customer base for Oliver’s cabinet making business.
Three years in however, Oliver was keen for a change and wanted to use the couple’s land more productively.
“We were surrounded by winemakers and saw those around us making delicious food and growing great produce. It seemed the obvious route for us to follow, to transition to the gourmet food industry.”
Fiona says what happened next is the result of watching one too many episodes of the television program, River Cottage.
Oliver purchased a couple of rare breed pigs from a local farmer, and as an Englishman with a longstanding love of English pork sausages and bacon, he began making his own. What started as a hobby has since grown into a successful niche food business called Langdale Farm, with a regular stall at Harvest Launceston’s weekly farmers’ market.
As the children grew, Fiona looked for new ways of supplementing the farm’s income. Initially she used her communications skills to create websites for other small agri-businesses, which also enabled her to work from home, but later turned her hand to writing.
In 2013 she was asked to write about the 20 year history of Tasmanian women in agriculture, resulting in a full-colour coffee table book printed by a Tasmanian publisher.
Along the way Fiona had also been chronicling her family’s tree-change on a blog, and by 2017 that had morphed into a travel memoir, called Apple Island Wife, which was picked up by United Kingdom publisher Unbound. Described by Steven Lamb of River Cottage UK as ‘compulsive reading for anyone who has ever thought they are not living the life they should’, the book was released as an e-book and paperback in August 2018.
Fiona continues to write travel, food and wine articles for publications including Tasmania 40o South magazine, Selector and BBC Travel, and works part-time as Communications Officer for the Tamar Valley Wine Route.
Riding the ‘sharing economy’ wave, the couple extended their farm business and now offer hosted accommodation with their Tamar Valley Gourmet Farm Stay.
In addition to finding a niche in the agri-tourism and gourmet food sector, Fiona has also unexpectedly found a strong literary culture in Tasmania. “We’ve both found a niche here doing things that we love, and somehow they’re all connected.”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.