The farm name says it all, really! Sophie Love and Ged McCarthy run their farm as close to nature as possible: chemical-free, with free-range livestock. On the farm you’ll find pigs, alpacas, horses, cattle, poultry and bees, and this enterprising couple also sell a range of gorgeous products they have grown or produced on site …
Hi Sophie. Please tell us a little about yourself and your family, and how you came to own your farm at Tom’s Creek …
I came to this area as a single 40 year old in 2007, looking for land to run, ride and write on. Ged McCarthy is the solar expert and electrician who came to upgrade the solar. Also a licensed builder, he got involved with the renovation of the house, helped me navigate rural internet (non-existent), fencing contractors (ditto) and major floods.
I fell in love with the nicest, kindest, most gentle man, who sold his farm so we could be together here. We were married at the “tie rail” in the house paddock in front of family and friends, and I home birthed Ben here later in 2008.
Your farming enterprise is called “The Naked Farmers”. How does this name reflect your business ethos and what you do?
As Ben grew, we wanted his food to be as close to nature as possible. We had to know where it had come from, how it was grown, the life it had lived and the love it had experienced. That meant that we had to raise our own meat. We put in a big veggie patch and the older Ben grew, the more I experimented with healthy food made from what we produced, with friends and family as guinea pigs.
I have never used any sugar, only our own honey in everything I make.
Naked means we are honest about provenance, we farm chemical free and as nature intended.
Describe your property for us: how many acres do you own, and what is the terrain like?
We are so lucky to own 400 acres with 4 kilometres of Ellenborough River frontage – approximately 120 acres of steep and timbered hills abutting Biriwal Bulga National Park, 80 acres of pristine cathedral-like rainforest around a delightful creek with waterfalls and yabbies, and the rest is rolling pasture and alluvial flats.
We are powered only by solar; we collect our water from the river and the sky. We have no mail delivery or rubbish collection, so we are careful about packaging, both bought and what we sell, and we collect our mail from the gorgeous Kath at the Long Flat Post Office, who used to weigh Ben on her Post Office scales when he was a baby in lieu of postnatal health visits!
What livestock do you currently run on your property, and how are these animals managed/cared for?
We are slowly building a lovely herd of cattle (currently over 30), led by our foundation Jersey cross cow, Daisy. We love Jersey cows for their creamy milk and have invested in young stock from dedicated breeders and local dairies.
We have a fantastic Santa bull from Ged’s father, Denis. We have 30 alpacas, whose fleece is made into doonas and pillows. We did have a wonderful flock of Suffolk sheep, which unfortunately wild dogs destroyed (we are saving up for some more).
We have three sows who farrow down once a year with up to 18 piglets per litter. We also have wild brumbies, which we are slowly domesticating and assorted riding and rescue horses, as well as meat and egg chooks, ducks and domestic animals!
All our animals live in harmony with one another and “free range” over the acreage (except the pigs, who must by law be fenced, but are keen escapologists!) They all turn up at the house paddock fence at the end of the day to be fed! It can be quite a scrum! All our animals are fear free and live idyllic lives in happy herds.
You have an online store that stocks varied produce. What are some of the products you sell?
When available we have pork and beef and will have lamb again next year. We make divine salad dressings with our honey and garlic, chilli infused organic olive oil with our chillis. In season we sell Lemon Butter, Pesto, Hommous, Beetroot Dip, Passionfruit Butter, Kiwi fruit and Apple Fridge Jam and our delicious bush honey.
We also make dukkahs, beeswax candles, lip balm and Bliss Balls. Wherever possible we use our own produce and if we can’t supply an ingredient, it is sourced from another farmer.
Do you encourage people to visit your farm, and if so … When are they able to do so?
We ran our first bee course last year and were thrilled by how many local people bought hives and are now keen apiarists. This year we have Sourdough, Chocolate, Fish and Fermented Vegetable courses in the pipeline. We aim to empower people to grow and make their own food and get involved with where their food comes from. We always feed our course participants and once they have tasted really farm fresh food, they never look back! We can also host events for you at our beautiful oasis.
If you could give people one piece of advice about how they could change their lifestyle for the better, what would it be (and why)?
Grow your own greens! Leafy greens are so easy to grow, and so good for us. Just a small area can feed your family all their lettuce, rocket, kale, spinach, silverbeet etc. And home grown tomatoes are so easy to grow and so delicious. Everyone can grow something – make a garden where you can walk past it every day, so you remember to water, weed and pick what is ready.
If you eat meat or eggs, make sure they are chemical free, free range, and they will be nutritious as well as delicious! It is better to eat really good quality meat once or twice a week than to fill up on cheap cuts that may be full of antibiotics, chemicals, dyes etc.
How do people contact you or find out more info?
Go to www.thenakedfarmers.com.au, like us on Facebook.
Thanks Sophie. Interview by Jo Atkins.