Simon Brownbridge and Loo Boothroyd operate Fosterton Farm, a biodynamic mill, bakery and beef farm just outside the main centre of beautiful Dungog in the Hunter Valley. Since they chanced upon the farm nearly nine years ago, they realised its potential to allow them to live the life they’d been dreaming of – one which would allow them to discover, test and practice ways of living as sustainable as possible.
It looks to me as if they have been successful in making that dream a reality. From high on a hill, the back deck of the family home, which is surrounded by beds of edible plants and herbs, looks out over the plateau of green pastures through which the Williams River dissects. Next to the house is a building housing the stone mill. Simon, a baker by trade, wanted to use the freshest flour possible so acquired a stone mill that allows him to make bread and pastries from organic wheat, rye and kumut, which he and Loo sell at Newcastle and Gloucester Farmers Markets. They also make and sell their own muesli.
Directly in front of the mill are two previously disused silos that have been converted into very comfortable and unique accommodation for WOOFERs and visiting friends and family. It overlooks the paddocks home to a mixed herd of cattle. Including an Angus bull and Murray Grey, Friesian and Hereford cows that are fattened in green pastures before being sent to a local abattoir on a specially designated ‘organic day’. The meat is then sold via a certified organic butcher in Newcastle.
The accommodation including kitchen / dining in one silo and the bedroom joined by a lovely deck.
The view from the deck
Loo helps me negotiate some electric fences to avoid walking directly through the path of the bossy Angus bull and onward to where Simon and two local friends are tilling earth by hand for a new vegetable plot.
Sally Corbett, one of the friends takes a breather from turning clod and tells me they come down to Fosterton from town once a week to lend a hand and learn some valuable pointers in organic farming from Simon. They’ll be able to take home some of the produce they’ve helped grow as a reward for their help.
Sally taking a breather from digging the new veggie patch || Sally & Loo on the way back to the house
While they wait for the vegetables to appear, Simon and Loo have a wonderful idea on the go – a dinner with a focus on locally produced ingredients. The Dungog Farm Feast will take place as a dinner next Friday 4 November 2011 with Louise Bennett of local eatery, Chillbillies, creating seven dishes. Each will feature locally produced, seasonal ingredients such as Bunna Bunnoo Olive Grove olives, Coorei beef, eggs from Cornucopia Biodynamic Farm, dairy from Johnson’s Farmgate, yoghurt and cheese from Marrook Farm, organic vegetables from Mikor Farm, goat from Nortenhoff Boer Goat Stud and quail from Redgate Farm. Accompanying the meals will be wines from Mill Creek Vineyard and, of course, Fosterton Farm bread.
Chillbillies, Dungog. The venue for the inaugural Dungog Farm Feast.
Having just recently visited Orange myself where 100 Mile events such as this are commonplace, it’s exciting to see that Hunter Valley producers are cottoning on to the idea of promoting just a sample the wide variety of the region’s produce with an event like this. I think that just like the Dungog Film Festival, the Dungog Farm Feast has all the possibilities to grow in popularity year after year.
For those that can’t make the Dungog Farm Feast dinner there will be open days at some of the farms whose produce is featured at the dinner the following day, Saturday 5 November:
9am to 11am
792 Fosterton Rd, Dungog
Bunna Bunnoo Olive Grove
237 Fishers Hill Rd, Vacy
Mill Creek Vineyard
2pm to 4 pm
Mill Creek Rd, Stroud