It has been a tumultuous eighteen months for fresh food producers in the south-west, with the survivors saying versatility is key.
As Victoria emerged tentatively from its fifth lockdown, farmers said the biggest challenge was constantly adapting to changing rules and fluctuating demand, never knowing what the next day would bring.
Jill Warner runs Caravan Eggs in Dundonnell. "Every time we lock down you have to change what you're doing," she said.
She said there were times when demand had dropped dramatically, but they hadn't had to throw out any eggs.
"We've tended to find ways, whether it was finding more wholesale customers, or donating to foodshare organisations."
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Ben Pohlner, who runs Volcano Produce in Tower Hill, said moving produce was a "massive issue" last year.
"When we first locked down everyone was caught on the hop. It was such a shock when everything just stopped," he said.
"We were lucky to have our roadside stall to shift produce to when we couldn't head to markets."
He said that many farmers weren't so lucky. "Suddenly they had nowhere to sell their produce." Mr Pohlner said he tried to help some of these farmers by selling their produce through the roadside stall.
Portland apple grower Neville Hahn is one of the producers who sold his goods through the roadside stall. Before the pandemic he made a living selling his apples at market, so when the markets closed his options looked bleak.
"It was a hard year. There were points where you thought 'what are we going to do here'?"
Mr Hahn had a cool room, but with apples piling up he had to get rid of the surplus.
"I've got sheep and if I wasn't able to move the stock I fed it to the sheep," he said. "It kept the sheep going I suppose, but it didn't keep the money coming in."
"Volcano Produce was very good in helping sell our fruit."
Mr Hahn said he's had help to set up a Facebook page, which has helped expand his customer base.
"I don't know how any of that stuff works, I just deliver the produce," he said.
"People would start turning up and I'd ask them how they knew we were there and they'd say they had seen it on Facebook."
Mr Pohlner said the pandemic had totally transformed his business.
"We tried to adapt, moving to an online presence, with a website where people could place orders," he said. "We also started doing delivery so we could get produce to people who would normally come to the market"
"The whole COVID thing kind of made our business," he said.
"It was really just a hobby business before, but the sudden demand for quality produce and desire to buy locally really exploded."
Mr Pohlner said while last year's lockdowns had been an ordeal, the adaptations he had made meant recent snap lockdowns hadn't really affected the business.
"Everyone caters to different segments and levels of the market," said Ms Warner. She said the key was not to become too reliant on one segment, knowing lockdowns could shut it down overnight.
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