The Farm Community charts Emma and Tom Lane’s journey from city life in Sydney to running an 80-acre community farm at the gateway to Byron Bay on Australia’s east coast.
Several years on, they’ve created a community of farmers who each take on a plot of the land to rear livestock or grow vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers. They work under common organic principles that utilise low-intervention practices and somewhat old-fashioned techniques.
In their book, the Lanes set out the principles of the farm: to grow, feed, educate and give back while caring for the land and supporting those contributing to it. Chapters examine the enterprises based on the farm, discussing the producers’ approaches in pages interspersed with recipes supplied by both farmers and the chefs from the estate’s Three Blue Ducks restaurant.
The producers who have contributed to the book are unfailingly passionate about their produce, be it herbs, vegetables, cheese, honey or bread. As such, the recipes are often seemingly simple looking to showcase a product that has been carefully grown or reared. Examples include a carrot-top chimichurri; beef-tail stew with sweet peppers and aubergine; and a spring fennel, radicchio, caper and pine nut salad.
With consumers’ interest in where their food has come from showing no sign of waning, the Lanes’ experiences offer a useful insight, particularly for those with kitchen gardens. There are lessons in making compost, companion planting, foraging, attracting wildlife and promoting good soil health – to name just a few.
Some parts of this book won’t appeal to every chef – such as the guides to making flower crowns or coffee body scrubs – but with farming practices under the spotlight and customers increasingly engaged with environmental issues, it sets out transferable principles for sustainability. With the young leading the charge to address climate change, adopting some of these principles may also make your business outlook more sustainable.
The Farm Community, by Emma and Tom Lane (Hardie Grant Books, £20)