Lately I’ve thinking of the new year and the life that I want to live. A life that is my own in form, rhythm and sustenance. One that honours where I’ve come from and also finds new frontiers.
Visiting Fiona and Adam at Buena Vista Farm on a spring time trip spoke clearly to me of the kind of life and community that is possible to craft. One that is deeply personal and beautifully generous. A life grounded in the rhythms of nature and practicalities of farming and raising a family, but also, it seems, an inspired little universe of their own that brings great joy and purpose.
The farm is set on spectacular rolling green hills overlooking the ocean in Gerringong on the south coast of New South Wales. It is part of the farm on which Fiona was raised, where her parents still live and the family has lived and worked for close to 180 years.
After years and lives spent away as many of us do, Fiona and Adam returned to the farm to raise their family, to build a small sustainable farming business and, most importantly, a life that is meaningful to them.
Their sense of adventure in trying new things has resulted in one of the most vibrant farms I’ve visited. It encompasses free range pigs (like Sage below), laying hens, heritage breed meat chickens, ducks, geese, dairy goats, bees, olives, coffee, a kitchen and market vegetable garden, as well as a medicinal herb garden – and probably more since I was there!
What might seem like an idyllic life is not an idle inheritance, however. Fiona and Adam clearly put their hearts and souls into this place and it shines through. They have drawn from the family history that formed the spirit of the farm and the beauty of the landscape, and are making their own contribution, in their own way.
They are also continuing the legacy for their children. One of my favourite moments of our visit was Fiona sending their wonderfully curious daughter off on errands to pick specific flowers and herbs around the garden - mostly to keep her occupied while we chatted and drank our tea. But regardless of whether she found the right things, along with the lessons of responsibility and resourcefulness that farm life offers, for this free-spirited girl to have a home environment like this in which to roam and play is the best gift of childhood I can imagine.
Fiona and Adam appreciate that what they have is precious and instead of keeping it to themselves, they have decided to share it with the local community and curious city folk like me.
Not only do they invite others to experience the farm, they show that it is possible to live more creatively and consciously in our own lives, wherever we may be. From building awareness of the choices they make on the farm and the difference it makes; to teaching (or rather, helping us reclaim) how to make food from scratch, through their workshops covering the art of making sourdough bread, cultured butter, jam, yoghurt, cheese pickles and more.
It's no easy, idyllic existence. It takes hard work and huge commitment but goodness I'm grateful everyone at Buena Vista farm (past and present) who has continued to invest in and share this special place because they believe that it matters. And because it resonates, lighting the way to seek out the life we want to live for ourselves, whatever shape that may take. Moving into the new year, I couldn’t think of better inspiration.
Thank you to Fiona and Adam for so generously welcoming us into their home and onto the farm (especially when they were already busy ahead of a workshop that day!) and to Lean Timms for the introduction and wonderful weekend on the south coast.
Click here for more information about Buena Vista Farm, where you can find their produce and details of their workshops.