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Visiting Buena Vista Farm (and an upcoming course there, too)

March 10, 2014 | Chickens, Courses + Workshops, Farming, Gardening, Kitchen Garden, Small Farm Skills | 7 comments | Author:

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Perched on green headlands with rich volcanic soil below, mountains behind and the wide blue of the Pacific out front, Buena Vista Farm is a pretty special place.

And as a bonus, it’s peopled by an awesome young farming family producing beyond organic food for their community, and doing it with a smile… 

The sixth, fifth and fourth generation of Buena Vista Farmers
The sixth, fifth and fourth generation of Buena Vista Farmers

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Meet Fiona and Adam. They’re ex-city folk who packed up their lives and moved back to Fiona’s 4th generation family farm in Gerringong (2 hours south of Sydney) a few years ago, to see if they could give this farming thing a crack, with their three little ones.

And they have.

We first met Fiona and Adam properly a year ago, when we were hosting Joel Salatin for a series of seminars in Kiama, just up the road.

Fiona called up out of the blue and said ‘would you like me to show up at DAWN with pastured egg and bacon rolls for all your setup crew on the first day?’ – er, yes. Yes we would like you to do that, Fiona. Wow. Thanks very much.

And it went from there really – we’ve been hanging about, eating whatever we can from Buena Vista Farm when we’re down that way, ever since.

Anyway. The farm.

Buena Vista  was originally a dairy farm, like many in this hinterland of lush green hills. But for the last decade or so, as Fiona’s parents got older and the milk prices got lower, the farm has been waiting for the next chapter to emerge.

Enter Fi and Ad-man.

The challenge: make 20 acres of pasture and the old dairying buildings pay for the upbringing of 3 kids and two right livelihoods, through primary production and the stacking of on-farm enterprises . Boom.

Purple congo potatoes from the market garden
Purple congo potatoes from the market garden
Baby broiler chickens, kept cosy and warm until they're big enough for pasture
Baby broiler chickens, kept cosy and warm until they’re big enough for pasture

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Older broiler chickens, out on pasture and moved daily. Not a bad view for a chook
Older broiler chickens, out on pasture and moved daily. Not a bad view for a chook
Coffee plantation, screened by high hedges from the costal winds
Coffee plantation, screened by high hedges from the costal winds

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Hyper local caffeine
Fiona manning the Buena Vista stall at Kiama Seaside Markets
Fiona manning the Buena Vista stall at Kiama Seaside Markets

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So far, Fiona and Adam have focussed on pastured eggs and Fiona’s best-ever biscuits, with seasonal forays into pastured pork and pastured broiler chickens. Oh and there’s a mini coffee plantation too.

They sell their fluro-yolked eggs to a few lucky local cafes, and last I asked they were producing about 60 dozen a week.

The pigs are, as I said, a seasonal enterprise – there’s a couple of sows who get visited by a friendly boar from down the road a few times a year, with very productive results. The pork is sold locally as cuts, hams, bacon and sausages.

The broiler chickens are an enterprise in progress. The chickens are bought in as day-olds and grown out on pasture until they’re about 10-12 weeks old (chicken you buy from the shop is about 7-8 weeks old).

The nearest chicken processing facility is 2 hours away, and sometimes the batches go on to be sold through the fabulous Feather and Bone providores in Sydney. If not, they get sold locally as whole chooks.

Then there’s the biscuits, which supplement the above enterprises and get snapped up at the regular markets throughout the Kiama area. So good. Might i recommend the ‘marry me caramels’.

On top of all that, there’s a market garden in progress, and also the prettiest kitchen garden you ever did see.

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Actually the kitchen garden of this stunning place is where we’re holding a Serious Backyard Veggies course in April, taught by Michael Hewins.

So if you want to see this farm for yourself (and eat the biscuits and other goodness) AND you’ve been thinking about doing this particular course with us, I rekon you should. It will be awesome.

Otherwise, go here to see what South Coast markets Buena Vista Farm are at this month. A on-farm shop is forthcoming in the nearish future too, I believe.

Here’s to another couple of generations of land stewards figuring out new ways to create on-farm livelihoods while enhancing their local food system. Hooray for Buena Vista Farm.

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