Apr 26, 2024 | Local News

PRODUCER PROFILE: Forage Farms in the Mary Valley

Vivienne Wynter

The Andrews family, owners of Forage Farms south of Gympie, are a remarkable team who have turned major challenges into triumphs.

Grandfather Peter Andrews is famous for founding Natural Sequence Farming (NSF), a landscape management technique aimed at restoring natural water cycles so the land can flourish despite droughts.

In the process of dedicating himself to the now rapidly growing NSF movement, Peter Andrews went broke.

Son Stuart Andrews and wife Megan bought the family farm: Tarwyn Park in the NSW Hunter Valley, to continue Peter’s life’s work in regenerative farming and raise their two young sons Hamish and Lachlan.

The farm was flourishing when fifteen years later in 2014, the Andrews had to sign over the property to a Korean owned energy company planning to turn it into a coal mine.

(Ironically, the planned Bylong Coal Project was rejected in several courts and is unlikely to proceed.)

A new chapter

in 2016, the Andrews family started a new chapter when they bought the now 270 acre Forage Farms in Queensland’s Mary Valley where they produce pasture raised eggs, meat chickens, pork and grass fed beef using regenerative farming techniques.

PHOTO by Katja Anton

Readers might recognise the distinctive green label on Forage Farms eggs sold throughout the Wide Bay and the Sunshine Coast.

Forage Farms also offer education on NSF through Tarwyn Park Training

It’s a family run business with Stuart, Megan, Hamish and Lachlan all working full-time in different roles.

L-R: Hamish, Lachlan, Stuart and Megan Andrews. PHOTO by Katja Anton

They continue to face challenges, including seeing over a hundred chickens killed and a damage bill of thousands after a storm hit their chicken tractors on Boxing Day 2023.

Hamish Andrews says the weather in the Mary Valley can be tricky.

‘Like farming anywhere, the climate can be a challenge and we have faced the brunt of it recently with a severe storm causing a lot of damage on the farm.’

‘The hot weather and humidity is always a challenge over summer and keeping the conditions bearable for the animals, especially the chickens and pigs which don’t handle those conditions as well.

‘But we are blessed with a beautiful location.

‘The Mary Valley is a great spot to be growing food. It’s close to consumers which makes it easier to get food to the dinner table and connect with consumers and share with them what we do on the farm.’

Megan Andrews says the whole family has a passion for using regenerative farming to produce food that is better for the landscape, the animals and the customers and educating communities about how they do it.

‘It’s important everyone knows where their food came from and how it was produced,’ said Megan.

‘We provide a hub where people can learn about regenerative farming, how our food is produced and why it’s better.’

Forage Farms produce pasture raised chicken and pork using regenergative farming techniques

This year, Forage Farms is participating in the GourMay Mary Valley Food Festival 2024  by offering a Regenerative Farming Tour  at the Kybong Farm on 26 May.

Visitors will learn about Natural Sequence Farming and get to taste some of the farm produce.

Hamish said the family’s farming ethos aligned with the principles of GourMay Mary Valley.

‘GourMay is a community event focused around local food which is a pillar of Forage Farms and our ethos of producing high quality food for the local community,’ he said.

Connecting consumers with food producers

‘The festival is a way of connecting people with local producers, eating local food and learning about how their food is produced. All of this is crucial to the future of food production and to the landscape as a whole,’ said Hamish.

‘Growing up there were not many people around with a similar thought process about regenerative farming and it is nice to be part of something bigger now.

‘These days we see a large number of people interested in doing something similar on their own piece of land, so it is nice to be able to share our knowledge with them.

‘We are constantly seeing problems with our landscape and the challenges we face when farming.

‘Farmers need the support of consumers to make change and events like the GourMay Mary Valley Food Festival have the potential to create and build this important connection.

www.foragefarms.com.au

 

PHOTO at top of story L-R Stuart, Hamish, Lachlan and Megan Andrews. PHOTO by Katja Anton

 

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