Take a trip to Kulnura and learn about where your food comes from
The last couple of months have seen shoppers start to question where their food is coming from and how livestock is managed before it gets to your plate. And for those of us that are finding it hard to ditch the meat and milk all together, sustainable farming offers the conscious consumer an avenue to continue to support local farms.
Enter Grace Spring Farm, based at Kulnura in the Mangrove Mountain region of the Central Coast. The farm, which is run by the Mall family, is on 10 hectares of sprawling natural farmland. The family specialise in grass-fed beef, dairy cows, pastured ducks, free-range chickens, eggs, and natural honey.
Owner Virginia Mall said the idea to make a tree change to the farm seven years ago was actually born out of a very stressful time for her family.
“My husband, Tony and I were both working in IT when our son was diagnosed with Leukemia at four years old. It was then that we started researching what we were eating, where it was coming from, and learnt more about traditional farming methods. From that, we decide to move to the coast and start our own farm,” said Virginia.
“When we moved from Sydney to the Central Coast, we didn’t know a single soul. Our plan was to run a small business on a small farm, selling direct to consumers… when we knew no one. I look back at that decision now and think oh my gosh, that was nuts!”
What the family have created over the last seven years is a fully functioning, small scale, chemical-free farm that feeds not only their own family, but also the local community, with food that’s free from all the nasties and horror-stories you get with mass-produced animal products.
“We started without any animals, and just slowly moved from fresh vegetables into the beef cattle and then onto meat chickens as the farm grew. It’s been one thing at a time and very organic,” said Virginia.
Three years ago they opened up their gates to host tours as part of the Central Coast’s Harvest Festival (runs annually in March) and the group tour format has grown for them ever since.
They do sustainable farming method tours, morning tea tours, school excursion and school holiday groups, bee-keeping workshops, and other customised sessions like mother’s groups and birthday parties. The tours allow the weekend warrior to come up and learn about their food and incite some inspiration to start their own project to “live off the land”, even if it’s just in the backyard!
Our favourite tour is the farm chores tour, which runs for 90 minutes and is great for pre-school aged children to see a cow milked, pat a sheep, or snuggle up with a baby duck or chicken, depending on what’s happening at the farm at that time.
COVID saw their home delivery service go bananas, to the point where they were struggling to keep up the pace with orders.
“A lot of people branched out during the peak of the pandemic to find their food from places other than the supermarket, so a lot of local people found out about Grace Springs Farm during that time, which is great,” said Virginia.
If you are planning to head up to the farm, make sure you take cash to buy some of their chemical-free produce including eggs, veggies and honey. Farming by natural methods means the food is seasonal, so you’ll never know what’s on offer.
“Right now we’ve got some chicks from our egg-layers and we’ve got ducklings. We’re a working farm, so every time you come, there’s always going to be something different happening here.”
The farm is situated not far from the highway so it’s perfect for a day trip for Sydney siders and Novocastrians alike. If you can’t make it up to the farm, the family frequent plenty of farmers' markets on the coast, so keep your eyes peeled on the Grace Springs Farm facebook page for more information!