Karla Hooper Earth Girl

6. Farmers Market’s, Struggle and Wake Up Call

Jul 7, 2017 | Karla's Story, Karla's Story | 0 comments

By the time I’d left the Shire, I was well and truly single, both my camels had passed away, but I lived on a magical property (1,000 + acres) with Wilson, my new bundle of joy dog – Mitzy, and my 2 gorgeous Clydesdale horses – Missy and Leo. Moving to this property was also the start of huge spiritual growth in my life.


After leaving the Shire, I continued on with the community work I had started, namely the Toodyay Farmers Market and Toodyay Community Garden. I had plans for the 2 projects to work in conjunction with one another.


I successfully started the Toodyay Farmers Market (TFM) with a bunch of other dedicated Toodyay residents. We created the structure as an incorporated not for profit association and got to work preparing for the first market. I put my heart and soul into its creation and had no time for paid work. The first market was a huge success and I was proud as punch. That first market made my heart sing a thousand beautiful symphonies, it brought joy to people, created strong community connections, connected people to each other and their food, supported local growers and artisans, and brought an incredible vibrant energy to the town. The most wonderful comment that I always loved hearing again and again was how the market made people feel – they’d come down just to get a fix of that good energy – that alone would allow me to die a happy person.


But something also happened to me after that first market, I crashed and burned. My mental state had been rocky since I’d left my Shire job and the TFM Committee were big supporters in helping me through. Bouts of depression were not uncommon throughout my life, but I had generally developed tools to climb out of the dark hole and into the light again. But after the first Toodyay Farmers Market I got hit hard. As with everything in my life, there is always a spiritual undertone weaved into my reality, but I think an element of exhaustion caught up with me. Mix that with the realisation I created a full time job for myself that was based on volunteering, that hadn’t factored in any payment, and that financial reimbursement for time and energy was now in the hands of a committee and not a personal decision – I felt an element of entrapment. But I was committed to my dream and I loved the market so much and all that it stood for, so I continued on making it work as best I could.


I was driven by passion, personal ethics & idealism, but was also getting the hard reality wake up call of ensuring financial sustainability was factored into future plans – that also looked after me and not just everyone else. I sludged through a period of struggle. No relevant job fell in my lap, I was fulfilling my dreams but couldn’t afford to feed myself, I couldn’t just work for money as it would slowly kill me from the inside, but I was also slowly dying from the stress of financial constriction.


I had the option of moving away and getting a job that would further develop my career and life mission, but it would mean abandoning my dreams. I did try, but I didn’t hear back from any applications submitted, which had never happened in my life before. I was confused about what I was supposed to be doing and where I was supposed to be going. I felt completely abandoned by my guides who had directed me so beautifully till this point.


With support, and small strung out lifelines from the Universe, I scraped through for the next couple of years. My parents loaned me some money, I got on the government NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) program to help formulate a business plan, I did the odd consulting contract, I started casual work as an in-house carer, which led to becoming an admin assistant for a local Real Estate, I got a scholarship to be on the Board of Directors for Wheatbelt NRM (Natural Resource Management) & eventually I took on a contract to start a new farmers market in the neighbouring town of Northam.


I continued my volunteer work with the Toodyay Farmers Market (until I started Northam’s market), but the Toodyay Community Garden didn’t get off the ground.


Starting the Northam Farmers Market was done in an independent manner, with the startup funded by a couple of governing groups. Again I had grand sustainability ideas and this time factored in payment for the Market Manager role, but it soon became apparent there were a few missing links for me to fulfil my mission. I loved what I’d created, was super proud of both myself and everyone involved, and loved the connective element farmers market’s brought to communities, but I was still searching for my perfect fit.


**Photo: Receiving recognition for the Rural Community Achiever Award nomination, for my work with the Farmers Market’s and Community Garden


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