A holistic way of life that needs to be experienced.
You’re a self-confessed city girl. Can you tell us how From Our Farm began?
I am a city girl originally, and ironically, I found myself the owner of a farm called Heston – 140 acres of pristine farming land in the Manning Valley, surrounded by mountainous views, fertile soil and lush paddocks. I often asked myself the question, “How did I end up here?” However, I’m a believer that the universe points you in the right direction, and that your destiny has a way of finding you.
I also own the Greenhouse Café Nabiac, a quaint 104-year-old cottage nestled in the township. Here, I strive to serve produce that is sourced locally and grown in an organic, sustainable way. My commitment to serving fresh, homegrown, beyond organic produce to the community and my desire to connect with the farm I had, led me to thinking … why don’t I combine the two?
This seed was firmly planted, however, when I stumbled across Brett Cooper from Limestone Permaculture. Brett’s passion for all things permaculture and my desire to provide paddock to plate produce inspired us to join forces. Hence, the vision for From Our Farm was born, and the dream of making it a reality had begun.
What does your philosophy “Growing with Nature” mean to you?
From the very beginning, growing with nature has been at the core of From Our Farm; I guess you can say it’s our mantra. From the time the first seed was planted, we lovingly nurtured it, slowly watching it grow and transform into nutritious produce. However, what was not so obvious, was how we were growing with nature and the effect it was having on our mind, body and soul. Turning the soil, planting and reconnecting with nature was making us healthier, happier people.
You’ve had a varied career in many different industries diverse from farming. How did your passion for food originate?
Food has always been a passion of mine. In my early days as a flight attendant with Qantas, I had the privilege of enjoying a variety of cuisine from all corners of the globe. However, as my career in the food industry evolved, I found myself more intrigued, and I guess you could say mindful about where my food was coming from – its journey from paddock to plate. I have always been a believer in the old saying “you are what you eat”, and it is this passion and drive that encourages me to pursue this endeavour.
In what way does From Our Farm service and contribute to Greenhouse Café Nabiac?
The team and I at the Greenhouse are committed to serving the community ethically grown, sustainable, beyond organic produce in our meals. Where possible, we source as much produce From Our Farm, which is located a short 15 minutes away. This guarantees low food mileage and the optimum in freshness.
Can you explain to us a bit about your permaculture and market garden?
Our garden has been designed using the swale system. A swale is a long narrow mound in the ground designed to collect or redirect water. Water is a precious commodity, and it must be used wisely; we mulch all our beds to prevent evaporation and retain soil moisture, whilst also eliminating weeds.
Our swales grow anything from edible flowers, bananas, watermelons, pumpkins, citrus, herbs and much more. We rely on companion planting to repel pests, attract bees, improve growth, enhance flavour and enrich the soil.
Our market garden is where we plant vegetables that require a little more protection. All produce that we grow is seasonal, using organic methods and permaculture practices. Here you will find our lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, corn, to name a few. Our beds are designed to retain and capture water, while reusable netting is used over insecticides to prevent unwanted pests.
We are also passionate about regenerative agricultural practices and improving our land for generations to come. Our farmyard friends play a major role when it comes to fertilisation. We collect cow, chicken, goat and horse manure from our paddocks. This goes into reinvigorating and enriching the soil.
In addition, we rely on composting, which is rich in nutrients. Here, we recycle various organic materials, much of it from the Greenhouse Café; this may vary from table scraps, coffee grounds, vegetable scraps and also grass trimmings, paper or wood. Once the compost has decomposed, we spread it amongst our garden beds, to continually improve our soil condition.
You’re very community-minded. How do you support local?
I’m a big believer in supporting local producers. If we are unable to produce it at our farm, we source additional product from the local area. This, in turn, supports our local farmers, builds better relationships, improves the local economy and reduces our environmental impact. In a nutshell, locally grown food is healthier, tastes better and brings the community together.
From Our Farm also operates as a farm stay; what can a guest expect when visiting?
Our private rural retreat boasts sweeping view and is the perfect location to relax and unwind. You can wake to the sounds of birds chirping, breathe in the fresh air and disconnect from the world as you know it. From Our Farm is the ultimate way for you to recharge and reconnect with nature.
As many of you know, country life is never dull; we are always busy, tending to gardens, animals and the land. Here, guests can help themselves to our permaculture garden, where they can choose from various seasonal, beyond organic produce, get acquainted with our farmyard animals, paddle board on the dam, relax by the pool, or simply take themselves on a country walk exploring the local area. There is ample room for children to run and play, and there’s plenty to do and see. In addition, we are perfectly situated close to quaint and vibrant shopping townships and beautiful coastal beaches.
What future plans do you have for From Our Farm?
Our main focus is to continue to provide the Greenhouse Café Nabiac and in turn, our local community with the optimum in fresh, local produce and healthy meals. In addition, we are hoping to offer a variety of workshops, ranging from permaculture principles to making preserves.
How can we get in touch to find more information?
Interview: Bronwyn Davis.