Andrew and Jarna French with their children Reid, 7, Hardi, 12, and Macey, 10, in the canola on their Goomalling farm.

Farming, family, sport and community: French family love Goomalling life

Main Image: Andrew and Jarna French with their children Reid, 7, Hardi, 12, and Macey, 10, in the canola on their Goomalling farm.

Email Shannon Verhagen

The French family of Goomalling’s story is one of farming, family, sport and a strong commitment to the community they call home.

When the tight-knit family of five — Andrew, Jarna and their children Hardi, 12, Macey, 10, and Reid, 7 — are not tending their crops, they are busy gallivanting around the countryside with their sports bags in tow.

As harvest approaches, they will swap their footy and netball gear for checked shirts and farm boots as the header starts whirring.

The family has strong ties to the Wheatbelt, with their property just south of town having been in Mr French’s family for 111 years.

The fourth-generation farmer and WA College of Agriculture — Cunderdin alumni today crops 2300ha of wheat, barley, lupins and canola with his father Doug, and his eldest Hardi lends a keen helping hand.

Education assistant Mrs French also hails from the Wheatbelt, born in York before moving to Northam with her family.

The couple’s love story is a classic country tale — meeting through the pub and the footy club. In 2008, they were married in the Jennacubbine Tavern — which Mrs French’s brother runs and where the two met — before moving into the home on the farm.

“It’s a great spot for the kids grow up,” Mr French said.

“They have the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom walls,” Mrs French said. “Every day these kids learn.”

Their eldest is all about life on the farm.

“I go down to the sheds and help him out with what he needs to do,” Hardi said.

He’s pretty much following in his father’s footsteps, that’s where he wants to go. Every day he’s out there doing stuff... helping his dad out... fixing machines.

Jarna French
The French kids Macey, 10, Hardi, 12, and Reid, 7.
Camera IconThe French kids Macey, 10, Hardi, 12, and Reid, 7. Credit: Picture: Shannon Verhagen

This year, the tall and vibrant canola fields are reminiscent of 2018, before the State’s dry run hit the grainbelt, boosting hope this harvest will be a good one.

“It’s looking pretty good, looking pretty similar to 2018 for us which turned out to be a pretty good year for us,” Mr French said. “Definitely a lot better than last year..

Last year we sat 120mm-150mm growing season rain whereas this year we’ve had about 272mm for the growing season.

Andrew French

While canola plantings were up across the State this season off the back of the wet start and high prices, Mr French stuck with their usual 2/3 wheat and barley, 1/3 lupins and canola rotation.

“We don’t really go chasing things too much, we like to stick to our rotations.”

Sport makes up a huge part of their life as members of the Mortlock Sporting League — playing for the Goomalling Blues — which sees them travel to Toodyay, Dowerin, Calingiri, Wongan Hills, Gingin and Dalwallinu for hockey, netball, footy and cricket.

They have been active members of the committees, with Mr French a football coach and current president of the junior football club, as well as a past president of the cricket club.

Mrs French plays, coaches and spent 10 years as president of the netball club, Macey plays netball and Hardi not only enjoys his footy but is trying his hand at boundary umpiring. They are also involved on the community bank board and P&C.

“Some weeks are like ‘we’ve got this meeting, we’ve got this meeting,’ and we have to really delegate,” Mrs French laughed.

But without those committees we wouldn’t have a very active community and I’d like to think our kids take away something from that and know that if you want to have a say in something, you’ve got to be a part of something.

Jarna French

They recently enjoyed the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days, where Reid won the colouring competition.

“The vibe around the town and community has been amazing,” Mrs French said. “And it’s so good for our businesses — Goomalling in general.”