With a few weeks of the school holidays left, you may be scratching around trying to find things to do with the kids. If you are anywhere within driving distance of Byron Bay (even if it takes a few hours), I have the answer… you need to visit The Farm.
I admit it… I’m just a big kid sometimes… I visit farms around the Sunshine Coast most weeks as part of my work, so you would think that I was all ‘farmed out’, but recently, finding myself down Byron way, I felt compelled to visit what has become something of a local icon, The Farm Byron Bay.
The Farm Byron Bay is located at Ewingsdale, just on the outskirts of Byron Bay, and it is just that, a farm – a proper working farm. It is also the home to Three Blue Ducks, a fabulous restaurant, Flowers at the Farm, a nursery and spectacular florist, The Produce Store, where you can get some of the fresh farm produce and more, and The Bread Social a sensational bakery with fabulous sourdough breads and to-die-for pastries (and donuts J). It is the full shebang.
The great thing about The Farm is you can just walk right in… wander around, enjoy the fresh air and sunshine (usually), pat the animals, stroll through the nut grove, say hello to the nomadic chickens, and it doesn’t cost you a cent. Having said that, I couldn’t get past the donuts, then we had to have lunch and some refreshments (read review here), then I missed out on donuts (sold out – be quick), then I made my patient hubby travel miles out of our way on the way home to get one of the aforementioned donuts because I couldn’t stop thinking about them… So it may cost you in other ways but I like to think of it as a kind of a tithe, and it was worth every cent. But that is what I like about The Farm – if you have a car full of kids, it does not have to be an expensive day out. And if you don’t have a car full of kids, you can relax, enjoy a meal… and a few drinks and then be a big kid yourself and pat the animals. Actually… maybe pat the animals before you have a few drinks… and the donuts… don’t forget the donuts!
I think this is why I like the whole concept of The Farm so much. I am fortunate in that I grew up on a farm, and spend a lot of time as part of my work, on farms, and I feel incredibly blessed doing so. But the average person does not. Children these days are becoming further and further removed from their food and its source, so I believe places like The Farm, help to bridge that disconnection and allow kids to experience where our food comes from and what a working farm does look like.
Die-hard farmers would argue that The Farm is not ‘really’ a proper working farm – but I think everyone just needs to relax a little bit in their commentary of this. Sure, it probably doesn’t have the output that a lot of farms have, and this particular farm is perhaps a glamorised version in comparison with some of the farms I visit, but I think The Farm needs to be judged on its merits, and the reality is that it is a difficult undertaking to have a full fledged working property and then have the ability to allow people to wander about at their leisure. So a compromise has been made, and I think it is a great one.
The Farm’s goal is to “Grow, Feed and Educate” and that is exactly what it does. Most of the produce grown on the 80 acre ex-dairy farm is utilised in the restaurant and café, so you can enjoy a wonderful seasonal meal, and then wander around the property and see where it is all grown. Other produce is sourced locally to supplement what they do not grow or produce, but on a whole, I think they make a pretty valiant effort. What is better still is that they use traditional, sustainable farming methods AND they are 100% chemical and spray free.
Additionally there are farm tours and workshops (there is a cost for these – see website). The farm tours are on the weekends and where you will get a bit of insight as to the workings of The Farm. We just wandered around by ourselves.
There are some great workshops for the kids during the holidays – check out http://www.thefarmbyronbay.com.au/event/farmkidssummer/ for more details. The workshops are about everything from learning about bees and chickens to vegetable growing and edible herbs and flowers – great healthy educational and fun activities. There are permaculture classes for big kids as well.
I have a bit of a weakness for cute farm animals, which is probably why, I like visiting farms so much and The Farm has these gorgeous highland cattle that are pretty friendly around feeding time. Their massive horns are a bit intimidating, but they are obviously a herd of woolly gentle giants by the way their carer nonchalantly would pass them a biscuit of hay as children wandered around amongst them.
The heritage breed piggies were cute as. Apparently there were some little piglets hiding somewhere, but we didn’t see them. I was entertained for quite some time watching the bigger pigs wallowing around in a mud puddle, by all appearances, they had engineered themselves by activating the nozzle on the tap that they were quite skilled at turning on and off. They were almost totally submerged, only surfacing to give the nozzle another flick for a cool spray of fresh water… It was a hot day… it was looking pretty good to me as well!
Walk a bit further and you will see the free-range chickens (as all chickens should be) grazing happily in their paddock, wandering in and out of their enclosure as they felt the need.
The path leads to a macadamia and pecan grove, which is quite picturesque and a cool reprieve from the heat of the day.
On the return trip we passed the vegetable patch, where assorted vegetables and herbs were in various stages of growth. Whatever is in season is what appears on the Three Blue Ducks menu, and the excess is sold in The Produce Store.
The Farm Byron Bay is a great outing. For me it was great to see people enjoying the farm and the interaction with the farm animals – experiencing the food chain and understanding where it comes from – and importantly what ethical farming practices look like – how all farms should aspire to be. The kids will love it!
Word of warning… The Farm gets busy… as in very busy, so plan your trip early, take your time and if you are after a donut, get in early, they don’t last long.
For more information visit:
Open 7 days – Doors open 7.00am
11 Ewingsdale Road,
Ewingsdale, NSW Australia
This story was written by Petra Frieser – Pebbles + Pomegranate Seeds