Tessa Wallace

In recent years Tessa Wallace (Class of 2008) has found herself immersed in the world of permaculture and farming. Currently working on an organic farm in Keilor (Victoria), Tessa is learning about creating healthier landscapes and supporting her wellbeing by connecting with the earth.


The joys of organic farming

Tessa Wallace’s days at the organic farm begin with an early start, harvesting long rows by hand, washing and packing veggies, and then weeding, spreading compost, planting seeds, and delivering produce. There is often a nap at lunchtime and a swim in the river after work. In addition to the seasonable vegetables they farm and eat, the close-knit team also have access to delicious cheese, miso, fruit and baked goods through swapping at local farmers markets.



Tessa says she initially became fascinated with the idea of local food and permaculture; namely small food producers who work with the natural seasons and ecosystems in their area. She was drawn to farming by projects such as Greening the Desert in Jordan and the Loess Plateau regeneration in China. These projects focused on revitalising land that was once gripped by desertification, leaving the surrounding populations without crucial resources.


This interest led Tessa to complete a permaculture design certificate, which involved learning about how humanity can connect with natural patterns and cycles.

“Doing that course felt so exciting, like ancient knowledge coming back!”

Tessa says WWOOFING, an organisation that links volunteers with organic farmers through non-monetary exchanges, was instrumental in her first steps into farming. It has a website that lists farms and homesteads where you can stay, volunteer, meet people, learn skills and get inspired; allowing her to make those first crucial connections.  


Tessa also became involved with Farmer Incubator, a Melbourne-based organisation that assists young people with a passion for farming. Their approach is based on collaboration and providing new farmers with much-needed knowledge. 


Appreciating the journey’s uncertainty

What has surprised Tessa Wallace the most about her journey has been not following the long-term plans she made. In her opinion, planning the future while still so young and with so much to navigate, is actually a waste of thinking energy.

“Maybe the only way, is to let instinct take you one step at a time. I think many of us feel we need to stack up achievements as a way to feel worthy or confident. Western society is an individualistic society, but in our very core humanity is a group creature of generosity, gifting, sharing, exchanging, being/observing rather than always forcing/doing/labelling.”

By far, one of the most important aspects of her journey has been putting a focus and priority on physical and mental wellbeing. Finding a balance between the two has been a challenge; however, Tessa now trusts that these will come and go throughout her life, as they do for most people. What has grounded her is committing time to meditation and yoga. 



A vision for the future

Tessa Wallace has a few hopes for the future as she continues to hone her skills in farming. Namely, that there is more consultation with Indigenous Australians on how their land is used and viewed. 


Tessa also wants to see greater support for people to learn regenerative farming practises and access small plots of land. Tessa disagrees with the persistent myth that small scale organic farms cannot feed the world. In her eyes they achieve much more by fostering diversity, healthier landscapes and people, and resilience to climate change.


“I think holding a beautiful vision of the future in your eyes can shift everything. Look at everyone with generous eyes”.


Want to connect with Tessa? You can find her:



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