Tom & Emma Lane were a power couple in the best sense of the phrase. Tom worked at his family business, one of Australia’s oldest retail houses, Oroton, for 20 years, eventually running the company. Emma was a high-flying creative exec at some of the biggest advertising firms in Sydney and London. That was until they found their three-year-old daughter, Matilda, sitting in the veggie patch of their hobby farm with her t-shirt outstretched to form a basket full of green beans that she had grown herself and was now happily devouring.
In this moment, a seed was planted which saw them trade in their Sydney life and up sticks to Byron Bay in the hope of sharing their passion with the larger community, and herein lies the birth of The Farm.
So what is it? The Farm is, well, just that, an 80-acre farm in Ewingsdale, NSW, a stone’s throw from Byron Bay, which aims to teach people about sustainability and reconnect them with wholesome food.
Teaming up with Bronte’s Three Blue Ducks, The Farm includes a produce store as well as a café/restaurant (Three Blue Ducks at the Farm) with a ‘paddock to plate’ philosophy. What’s grown on the farm is used in the kitchen; honey from their hives, eggs from their hens and vegetables from their soil. And what isn’t cultivated on site is sourced locally, which was the aim to begin with.
“Believe it or not, you can’t supply a restaurant off 80-acres, but we actually don’t want to be the only supplier to the Ducks,” says Tom in his first interview with Magdalena Roze, fiancee to Darren Robertson from Three Blue Ducks. “This is about community. We want other farmers and producers in the area to sell their produce to the Ducks. We want to provide young farmers in the area with plots on The Farm where they can run their own agri-business and work together.”
Meet parents, farmers and owners of The Farm, Tom & Emma Lane
What drove you to start The Farm?
Emma and I have 4 young kids and we are passionate about educating them about where food comes from. We started with a small farm in Federal growing our own food then thought if we can do it for the family lets do it on a larger scale.
What were you doing prior to this?
My background has been in fashion retail (Oroton) and Emma’s in marketing and advertising. We decided to leave corporate life and focus on our young children and giving them a rewarding and memorable journey as they grow up.
Was it nerve-racking to completely change tact?
Yes it was the biggest decision we have ever made as a family, and has had its challenges but it has been by far the most rewarding decision we have ever made.
How would you describe The Farm philosophy?
Our philosophy is built on our motto ‘Grow, Feed, Educate’. Grow your food, your people and your community. Feed and nourish your physical self, your soul and the land on which you live. Educate yourself, your family and your community so that we can all actively participate as sustainable food growers, producers and consumers.
Our intention was to build a farm for ‘the people’. We employ conscious farming techniques in order to produce food which is as clean and as nourishing as possible. We encourage you to explore the property and its various food and flower plots, meet the animals, talk to our farmers and get inspired by watching a working farm in progress.
What are the most popular dishes on the menu at Three Blue Ducks on The Farm?
The Farm salad is always a huge hit.
What is your favourite thing on the menu and in the store?
As you would expect the menu changes all the time but I can’t go past the broccoli and eggs for breakfast.
Aside from the café/restaurant, what else goes on at The Farm?
We have an organic bakery called The Bread Social, a flower nursery and florist, and an ever-growing education program.
How does The Farm reflect your own style of prepping and cooking at home?
Great question. Since we started growing our own food with our kids what we eat now is straight from the paddock. Picked that day.
How do you think society’s approach to food (both producing and consuming) is changing in Australia or worldwide? What do you predict for the future?
There is a huge shift happening around the world with people wanting to know where their food comes from, eating seasonal produce and local grown supporting their community. I believe more and more people will want to question where their food comes from and how it was grown, is it sprayed with nasty chemicals, or flown half way around the world in a gas chamber to preserve its shelf life. There is a shift back to the simple and rewarding way of life of growing and eating local and you can see that now being reflected in menus from top chefs and restaurants around the world.
What advice would you give someone wanting to be more self sufficient in their own home? Any easy places to start?
Start growing your own. It does not have to be big, just grab and empty milk carton cut it in half and start grown herbs on your window. Trust me its rewarding.
What is in store for The Farm and the Lane family in the future?
The farm has only been open for 10 months and we have come a long way, but in the world of farming it never ends. We have big plans to expand our farming operation and build on the education component.
Quick questions with Emma Lane
First thing I did when I woke up this morning:
Have a moment of gratitude before drinking a splash of apple cider vinegar in water to get the digestion going and the day on its way
Most people probably don’t know this about me, but:
I was an extrovert and as I’ve become older I’ve become more of an introvert