The Farm – sustainable eating, education and eco tourism at its finest

The (re)view from The Plant Powered Fire Truck*

The Farm is a sustainable food producer and educator that is nestled in the beautiful curving landscape of the Northern River Region of New South Wales, just a 10-minute drive from Byron Bay.

This stunning attraction was founded in 2013 by Tom and Emma Lane, who were on a mission to share the experience and joy of fresh produce and sustainable farming with their community.

Their mission was inspired by the happiness that their home veggie garden had brought them and their family. Watching the delight that their three-year-old girl had in devouring the fresh beans she’d helped to grow gave them an idea. Seven years later, that idea has become an icon and masterpiece in sustainable tourism and paddock to plate dining.

Aside its working farm, The Farm houses a collection of micro-businesses that share a common goal: Grow. Feed. Educate. Give back.

A warm welcome

The entrance to this humming piece of land is marked by a rusty ochre-coloured truck that has found a purpose to its retirement in boldly displaying an invitation to explore the stylish and sustainable sanctuary within.

Highland cattle graze in the hills that roll down to meet the carpark. As you crunch over the gravel towards the main buildings, you’re met by a beautiful rustic signpost that points you in every direction. A florist, bakery, cafe, restaurant, gelatory, playground, and horseback riding tours all wait within.

Signpost_at_The_Farm_Byron_Bay_Credit_Roland_Davies

The galvanised dome entrance to the Three Blue Ducks restaurant, cafe and produce store is full of treats. From local oils and homemade jams to fresh produce and wine. Jars of pickled vegetables and honey line the walls and draw you further in, past fresh sourdough and pastry to a coffee station built on red bricks.

This all opens up into a beautiful open courtyard that has become famous for its food and alfresco atmosphere. The kitchen that flanks this space creates a stage for the farm to fork experience that’s here at the heart of the venue.

Your senses have sped quickly into fifth gear, brimming in anticipation – the sights, sounds and smells all whisking up a delicious atmosphere.

Three_Blue_Ducks_The_Farm_Byron_Credit_Roland_Davies
Three Blue Ducks at The Farm in Byron Bay. Credit: Roland Davies / Lucky Roland

Stepping into nature

A wooden deck of rustic dining furniture overlooks a garden of raised flowerbeds built with old railway sleepers. Nasturtiums, Lavender, Borage and Wild Pansies are happily homed here, attracting Bees and Butterflies that dance through the blossoms and neighbouring herbs.

The Farm doesn’t miss a moment to introduce you to composting systems, the importance of waste management and information on Australian Native Bees as its walkways draw you out into the fields beyond the dining area.

An old white homestead and a wishing well sit in this open space. White timber beams gleam amidst a green landscape of soft grass, floating palms and breezy gum trees that look like they’ve guarded the area for centuries.

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Beehives at The Farm in Byron Bay. Credit: Roland Davies / Lucky Roland

 

Meeting the residents

White Cockatoos and pastel Galahs glide through the air as you venture on to meet The Farm’s residents.

Happy and chatty pigs are busy digging in the reddy-brown mud in search of roots, grains and scraps. There’s an automatic water drinker where they can pour themselves fresh water when they want it, activated by a sensor – an amazing way to reduce water waste and offer the cleanest drink on tap.

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A happy piggy at The Farm, Byron Bay. Credit: Roland Davies / Lucky Roland

Further down the hill, Highland cattle wander to greet you at the fence. The calves are most inquisitive to meet you, their scruffy hair covering their eyes and teddy bear faces. The Farm is working to cell graze its cattle, believing this to be the most ethical, healthy and sustainable way of raising them. By rotating their grazing space, the cows have access to fresh pastures. In turn, this enriches the soil, sequesters carbon, increases soil fertility and regenerates new growth.

Looping back, there’s an Apiary where 10 rustic and painted beehives sit on a raised platform, hugged by Clover and Rosemary. The hives are Flow Hives – a local Byron Bay design that has been awarded B Corp Certification and has a commitment to net zero emissions by 2030. It is said to be the most revolutionary beekeeping invention since the Langstroth hive was designed in 1852, with the new and improved method of extracting honey being gentler on the bees and easier on the beekeepers.

There are snippets of environmental education everywhere. From waste to organics, permaculture to beekeeping – they have covered it all as you wander through the paths of the open farm.

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The Farm, Byron Bay. Credit: Roland Davies / Lucky Roland

Plant paradise

Regimented lines of Lettuce and Cabbage are surrounded by young Lemon Trees. Banana Palms provide important shelter – and moisture – between the rows of vegetables, while Sunflowers and Sweet Peas attract pollinators. You can feel the love, care and attention that has been invested here.

Opposite lies a garden of edible flowers that is hugged by a Macadamia and Pecan orchard. A soft path leads you down into a paradise of shade. The ground crunches with old nut shells and dried leaves. In a small opening, a Gratitude Bench invites you to take a seat, pause, breathe and reflect.

It’s still and peaceful here, yet the land is singing. Butterflies dance to the wind that whistles through the trees and rustles the leaves on the ground.

A_Butterfly_at_The_Farm_Byron_Bay_Credit_Roland_Davies
A butterfly at The Farm, Byron. Credit: Roland Davies / Lucky Roland.

There’s a herd of horses dozing in the sunshine – legs rested, eyes closed. Their field drops down into a regeneration site where the plant life peaks in the wet basin of two rolling hills.

Sensory overload

Walking back, you’re met by the smell of honeysuckle as smooth Sunday music meets your ears, backed by the light clinking of cutlery. The venue has a feeling of being sturdy and grounded yet soft and gentle – the wooden beams and iron roofs are paired with sweet smells and delicate blooms.

Pickles_at_The_Farm_Byron_Bay_Credit_Roland_Davies
Pickles at The Farm, Byron. Credit: Roland Davies / Lucky Roland.

The menu is so mindfully crafted, it’s hard to choose. Everything looks like it’s going to nourish your body from the inside out. The breakfast menu is accompanied by every coffee creation imaginable, alongside refreshing soft drinks and fun breakfast cocktails.

The Specials Board boasts the freshest produce available, coupled with the chef’s creativity. Today, that delivers a plate of plants and colour that melts the taste buds. Leaves of Mint add a fresh kick to sweet roasted Beetroot, dip and Dukkah. Cutting into the poached eggs that are perched on top releases warm and bright orange yolks – the ultimate sign of happy free-range hens.

Food_at_The_Farm_Byron_Bay_Credit_Roland_Davies
Food at The Farm, Byron Bay. Credit: Roland Davies / Lucky Roland.

The feeling of eating the fresh produce that you have seen in the fields is divine. Your smiles are met by those of the staff that seem to love what they’re doing. It’s busy but there’s a flow to what’s happening here. While everyone is working together, they’re also completely absorbed in their roles. One of the chefs floats through the dining area to cut fresh Rosemary from the raised beds behind it, whistling as he returns to the kitchen.

Magic masterpiece

At every turn, The Farm demonstrates how harmony can be created with the land and the plants and animals we share it with. There’s no denying the magic of this place and the inspiration it lends its visitors. Even if you walk away unconscious of the details that lie in its signage and careful development, the fresh air, sunshine and other souls that reside here will all leave their mark.

 

KEY INFORMATION

Website
www.thefarm.com.au

Address
11 Ewingsdale Rd, Ewingsdale NSW 2481

Opening times
Monday – Thursday: 7am – 4pm
Friday – Sunday: 7am – 10pm

Entrance fee
Free

Attractions
Restaurant
Cafe
Bakery
Nursery
Gelato
Kids playground
Horseback riding
Open farm
Tours
Workshops

 

*Earth Collective is following Roland Davies and Charlie Thompson as they travel through Australia in a plant-powered fire truck for the next six months. You can follow their journey here. If you are a restaurant or cafe who would like to donate waste vegetable oil to keep them moving, or if you are interested in sponsoring the trip in any other way, please contact sales@weareearthcollective.com.

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