Visiting: The Farm at Byron Bay

| Courses + Workshops, Farming, Gardening, Market Garden | comments | Author :

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Nationwide there’s a movement rumbling of folks wanting to connect more deeply with the land, and specifically with the origins of their food.

In the outskirts of the not-so-small pocket of Byron Bay a new space set to aid this for locals and visitors alike is emerging – and fast. 

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On a picturesque property on the main drive into town, The Farm at Byron Bay is set to be a one-stop for food production – growing vegetables, raising livestock, making dairy, baking bread – along with a spot to enjoy all that fresh produce, buy your weekly grocery shop and of course, learn.

Will Cotterill, general manager and co-founder of The Farm says, “The farm is an 86 acre farm right on the doorstep of Byron Bay.

We are setting up as an agritourism project, but the essence of it is it’s still a working farm.

We’re going to treat it like a traditional working farm, we’ve got livestock, veggie crops, tree crops, the cheese factory which will produce cheese, butter, milk, possibly ice cream.

It was an old dairy farm originally so we’ve brought that side of it back into action. And then on the back of all that we’ll have a restaurant, bakery, and some other food manufacturing businesses on the site, and open it all up to the public so they can come visit and see how the food is grown, made, tasted.

The educational component is important for us too because we want people to learn through experience to actually be able to go out into fields and work with the farmers, but also have some courses on growing backyard vegies, and beekeeping, and composting, and cooking classes and stuff like that.”

Joining the furore are Sydney eastern suburbs favourites, Three Blue Ducks, who are headed north to open their second restaurant on the site, which Will says both crews are really excited about.

Also joining the fun, are yours truly! We’ll be making a little extra home for ourselves at The Farm and running many of our courses from the handy multi-dimensional site, starting this Autumn.

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Founders of the site, Will Cotterill and Tom Lane are both farmers who have knocked heads together to make use of the property that Tom has owned and run his dairy, Byron Bay Cheese and Byron Bay Butter (previously Bangalow Cheese), from.

Will’s own farm Byron Bay Garlic (previously Gourmet Garlic Company) has also joined under the same rebranding.

Will, who has a decade of business experience thanks to a little hiatus from farming, says, “I met Tom this time last year. He’d bought the property and realised that it was a great place for a cheese cellar door and restaurant, but also for so much more. I walked the block with him and basically gave him a rundown on what I would do. It’s a beautiful piece of farmland, there wasn’t much that needed to change.

“We got on the site on January 20th. By Christmas we’d love to have at least the restaurant and the farm shop open. The farm is a work in progress, there’ll be chooks, there’ll be pigs, there’ll be veggies growing, all of that will be happening by Christmas anyway.

It would be nice for the public to come onboard and have a shop and the restaurant, and be able to get a coffee and a nice meal, and buy some produce.”

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While the immersive experience in farm life for visitors is a huge part of the aim for The Farm, an equally important outcome is to grow more local farmers.

“We’re trying to grow some young farmers in the process too. It was always our plan was to try and train people in growing here, in a very diverse environment and then find them land and help them to get established.

“We want to get some young people on the land and in the know, and give them assistance with equipment and upfront costs and then do a supply contract with them. Particularly with meat, meat is one area that we want to have an ethical supply of.”

For Will, having a space where farmers can connect personally to their customers is a big factor in changing the way the farmer-customer relationship currently works – and he speaks from personal experience.

“The thing that got you through the tougher times, when it was hot and sweaty and horrible, were the pleasures of going down to the farmers market and chatting to people that loved your products and loved your garlic, and it made you feel good about what you were doing. I think that’s a real blessing.

“A lot of farmers are up in the hills and don’t often see the people who buy their food and I think it’s really fantastic that we can open the doors and let people in and actually get the opportunity to meet and greet and traverse with the people who are going to be buying the food that we grow.”

You can follow the adventures of Will, Tom and the gang at – they’re also on facebook + instagram

We’ll be releasing the details of our 2015 courses at The Farm very soon! Hop on our newsletter to be the first to know when they go live.

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Interview by Emma Bowen. Em is a grower, writer and thinker- she runs The Slowpoke and is about to launch the funkiest Urban Farm that Sydney ever did see with the team of Green Up Top.

Images 1-9 by Emma Bowen, all other images by The Farm

See the comments

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17 responses to “Visiting: The Farm at Byron Bay

  1. I love these ideas and great to see some people putting it into action. I only hope there’s a steady cash flow, as customer patronage can wane. I grew up in Coffs Harbour and knew those who owned the “Big Banana”. The biggest challenge was making it diverse enough so people want to keep coming back. They had the best tasting banana splits though! Having REAL ice-cream helps.

    Not sure what kind of trade the Big Banana is doing now, as the owners have since changed hands and I now live in Queensland. What I see as probably the biggest challenge for this new business enterprise though, is keeping it affordable. It will be difficult to keep prices low as the climate makes it more difficult to farm, but bankers and govt will find new ways to increase the cost to do business.

    I hope its doable, but it has to be affordable for everyone.

  2. Good luck with this venture. It’s not far from where I used to live. Hope it lives longer than the ReGenesis farm at Myocum did, which was a model farm using agroecological principles and that supplied eateries in Byron, returning the eateries’ organic wastes to the farm where it was composted and used to fertilise their next shipment of food.

  3. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea, this is exactly the kind of thing we want to do. As well as this we would also have a farm stay/ B and B side to it as well, and an event venue hire too, which could be coupled with the restaurant in your case. I think all of your ideas together will be diverse enough to make it a huge success! Plus, you have passion beyond compare! Best of luck for the future to you and everyone involved. We’ll be sure to call in if we are ever up that way! Happy farming, from Dubbo!!

  4. I met Will (and Tony) on the recent Market Garden Masterclass at Allsun Farm and it was just by luck that I was in Byron Bay a week later and took up Will’s offer of a tour of The Farm. What a fantastic set up with so much on the go and so many future plans. It was hard to take in all the things that they plan to have…and the black garlic tasted great !

  5. I’m super excited to hear Milkwood are going to be doing their courses from here. I live in Brisbane and always drool over the courses you offer… Can’t wait!

  6. Love seeing the progress you guys are up to as I drive past everyday & back for work. Great seeing the free range chickens in the field. I wish you success as I can see how much hard work is going into this.

  7. Would love to know detailed specifics of where and how chooks are being processed (killed and dressed) for sale to off farm customers; or are they only being processed and consumed on farm to avoid NSW Dept of Health regulations?

    We are on a farm at Glenreagh on the North Coast of NSW; since 2003 have beef cattle but want to diversify also into dual purpose chooks such as Light Sussex or Rhode Island Red.


    1. I believe they’re planning to get a micro-abattoir going on-farm, but processing off-farm till that happens

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