The hunt for the perfect farm: based on our knowledge and love of Tasmania from a 6 week holiday in 1990, Darren and I convinced 12 year old Allira (recalcitrant teenager who really wanted to move to Ireland) that it's a good idea to go on a holiday to the bottom of Downunder in the hope of finding a dream farm to move to.
Loaded with a list of requirements and a range of properties located within an hours drive from Hobart, in July 2012 we chose the Huon Valley - particularly the Cygnet area as the place for us. We managed to narrow the field even further once we discovered the Cygnet Coast Road. Miraculously for us we managed to sell our farm in Northern NSW and buy our dream farm: 25 acres of mixed bush, pasture and organic apple and pear orchard all located on a gentle slope rising from the banks of the Huon River.
Our long held dreams of establishing a property that encompasses our passion for creativity and also our belief in sustainable food production were quickly becoming a reality. Our consultation with the Huon Valley Council about our proposed business developing an arts and agri-tourism hub were very promising and on a wing and a prayer in late 2013 we relocated to Tassie. We spent the next two years living in a variety of cabins and huts until we built the Studio - stage 1 of the grand plan of building an art gallery with cafe, teaching studio and retreat accommodation.
Over the past 5 years our attention and finances have been directed towards numerous farm improvements - we quickly discovered that our orchards were being annihilated by browsing animals, this resulted in kilometres of fencing - and lateral thinking on which orchard blocks would prove more suitable to keeping for the long term. Our other big farming issue has been the organic management of weeds - particularly the dreaded gorse and blackberry. We were very keen to trial the use of livestock to help with the management of weeds and their role in the regeneration of the soil - Our highland cows turn their noses up at the gorse but Thomas the horse loves it. The introduction of the managed grazing system has achieved phenomenal results in the condition of the soil - we now have pasture coverage! Soon we'll be adding more livestock into the system.
Now that we have fenced our productive land, our intention is to grow as much food as we can for ourselves and the cafe: we have already planted a number of nut trees and look forward to planting a stone fruit orchard as well as a range of berries and of course a huge kitchen garden.