Follow the Farmer is a series the Mudgee Guardian have created in conjunction with Mudgee Fine Foods to tell the story of how your local businesses began.
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A gifted succulent was not only a present for Mudgee's Nicole Clarke, but also the spark that lit the flame for a business venture five years ago.
Once her personal collection of succulents began to get "out of control", a friend of Mrs Clarke's suggested she have a stall, that we now call Mudgee Succulents, at the markets.
"I was given a plant and I really loved it so I bought some more, I started to collect them. Of course they give out pups so as they gave out pups, I would repot them," Mrs Clarke said.
"I was running out of room so a friend suggested I have a stall at the markets. We went and didn't realise how much people liked them. That's how it all started.
"We've really found our tribe at the Farmers Markets. We really love going and seeing new faces but also seeing the other stall holders. We are very much a community."
Predicting what variants of succulents will sell at a market is a question for the fortune teller, nevertheless, Mudgee Succulents continues to be a crowd-pleaser.
"We can never pick what's going to sell. Some weeks we'll have one that sells really well and the next week it might just sit there and hardly sell," Mrs Clarke said.
"We always have our core stock we take to every market and then we'll just have whatever's looking it's best."
In the early stages, Mrs Clarke would tend to the succulents which were lined up in the paddock on a bench, but these days, they're cared for in a "massive" shade house.
"I never would've imagined that we would be at the size we are today," she said.
"I said to my husband a couple of years ago that we needed something to cover both myself and the plants so I wouldn't keep getting sunburnt. I looked online one day and found this massive shade house. We ended up buying it.
"It's 36 metres by about 36 metres, it's huge. It's been up for 12 months and it's half full. Every year we get bigger and bigger."
The dream for Mrs Clarke is to make Mudgee Succulents her full-time job because "it's what I love to do".
"You've got to love it because of the hours that go into it. I spend most weekends in the shade house but it doesn't feel like work," she said.
Mrs Clarke is currently in the process of setting up a website for the business, but for now, any updates will be posted on the Mudgee Succulents Facebook page.
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