The drive up to Brocklands nursery in the Tamar Valley hinterlands wends its way between hidden fairy glades and sweeping hillsides that rise and fall like a series of sighs. Then suddenly there’s a biosecurity gate and beyond it a ute careering down the driveway, Karen Brock at the wheel all fluoro jacket and cheery helloes, and Mango the Spaniel barking madly from the window. This woman has more gusto than a kangaroo on coffee.
Karen gives every impression of a woman in command of her plot who could turn her hand to anything required. She puts this down to her early years on a mixed farm in Meander. 'I’m from a diverse farming background and I was just blessed by my upbringing. Dad taught us to be self-sufficient and independent decision makers from a very early age,’ she says. ‘At the age of eight, I had my own horse, my own dog, and I’d be bringing eight hundred sheep out of the bush on my own. The bastards would sit down, and I’d be chucking them over the horse and walking with it, just to get them home!’ She’d be cursing all the way too, she adds, having learned ‘every flowery word you can think of,’ at a very early age.