Most people are familiar with “country lifestyle porn” – the soothing escapism of watching a chef traipse through the countryside in River Cottage or ogling the heritage barn restorations of Grand Designs. It’s a window into a world outside the rat race, without tiny apartments and bumper to bumper traffic.
Even as Australia’s population coalesces around its increasingly crowded capital cities, the back-to-basics appeal of country living remains strong. Plenty of would-be urbanites are bucking the trend and choosing a quieter life in the country.
But a new generation of country-dwellers is taking one aspect of modern life with them. Though their jam-making, kitchen gardening and rustic decor hark back to simpler times, many are building big followings through the very 21st-century phenomenon of Instagram.
We caught up with three Instagram heavyweights who have traded inner-city living for the rural dream, taking their followers along for the ride.
Matt & Lentil Pubrick
Founders, Grown & Gathered
After years of travel, Matt Pubrick, a graphic designer, and his wife, Lentil, a speech pathologist, decided to ditch their city life for good.
“There was something missing in our previous lives in the city,” says Matt, “a connection with nature, with our food and the people around us.”
The pair leased land on Matt’s family farm at Tahbilk, north of Melbourne, where they turned an existing home into a fresh produce paradise. Their business, Grown & Gathered, runs workshops on living seasonably and sustainably. They’ve also written a book, with recipes and gardening how-tos.
“The desire to be in a more spacious, natural environment, working with nature, growing things, that’s a really deep part of all of us,” Matt says.
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Owner, Tamsin’s Table
Tamsin Carvan had spent much of her adult life living in Sydney’s King’s Cross before deciding to step out of the rat race. With no farming experience, she bought a farm in Gippsland, and did freelance consulting work while caring for her young daughter and managing the daily grind of farm work. “I’ve never had a moment of regret,” she says. “But was it a struggle? Yes. Is it still a struggle? Absolutely.”
Today, she runs Tamsin’s Table from her farm, hosting lunches made with the food she grows. She attributes her success to Instagram, where she has more than 16,000 followers. “Without social media there’s no way I could have built this business.”
She says Instagram works like organisations such as the Country Women’s Association used to. “It connects me with people all over the place, people I would never have otherwise met,” she says. “There’s always been powerful personal networks in rural areas, particularly among women. Instagram has enabled these people to join up and to connect.”
Katie Marx had a successful career as a florist in Melbourne when she and her partner moved to a former butter factory in Newstead, 1.5 hours north-west of Melbourne several years ago.
“We wanted a life for our children that was more in touch with nature and the seasons,” says Katie, who regularly shares pictures of her floral designs, foraged finds and stunning sunflower patch with her 39,000 Instagram followers.
She and her partner, furniture-maker Greg Hatton, have since turned the butter factory into a home and events space called Butterland.
Katie says moving away from the city doesn’t have to mean missing out. She finds plenty of stimulation in the nearby creative communities of Castlemaine and Daylesford. “There’s always something to do.”
This article originally appeared on Domain.