Down to earth and looking damn good in the process
It seems odd that western society now fetishises the quaint charm of rural farming.
Sometimes we get a little Hameau de la Reine vibe (Marie Antoinette’s little rural town she built to ‘play’ farm peasant back in 1783) the way restaurants are incorporating herb gardens and live animals into their dining experiences (to almost staggering levels of success).
Embracing the grit and the smell of livestock, it seems customers are loving getting their hands a little bit dirty when it comes to fine food.
What causes such a throwback to a simpler way of life? Like Antoinette, the answer probably lies pretty close to how utterly removed we are from the realities of our food production.
After all, we do live in a time where even single vegetables come needlessly plastic wrapped from the local supermarket. It makes sense that eventually the tide would turn, it would be madness not to.
For this reason, we thought we had The Farm pegged. Maybe a few chickens here. A pig thrown in for good measure. A nice little toe dip into permaculture for the look and feel but we expected to scratch beneath the surface to find good intentions and not much else (not a bad thing, we imagine it is incredibly challenging for a restaurant to be viable as a wholly off-the-food-grid enterprise).
Boy it feels good to be proved wrong.
Yes, there are ornamental cows (the gentle giant Highland Coos, whose only job is to mow the lawns, fertilise the ground) but there’s also beef cattle such as Murray Greys and Black Angus. Their job to is have a good time and enjoy themselves too, of course there’s the catch that they also end up on the plates at Three Blue Ducks. The same goes for the Large Black pigs. Here they enjoy a menu of grains, grass, cracked eggs and buttermilk, as well as almost triple the playing quarters of their factory farmed comrades.
They are respectfully treated… And also respectfully eaten.
This nose-to-tail confrontation of the facts is so refreshing and adds a real depth to your meal. Something we haven’t experienced for a long long time.
Because, people, this is a real farm. It’s authentic and life and death are all part of the cycle. The Farm’s goal seems to be to revel in the beauty of the in-between stage (that would be… life).
We especially saw it when farmer Johnson took us on a Jurassic Park-style journey across the property. As the camouflaged truck jostled between the paddocks he talked with reverence for the animals and the crops and also how The Farm works in collaboration with local ethical producers in the area for things not yet grown on location. The venue also works with schools providing programs teaching children about where their food really comes from. “I’ll never forget seeing a kid pick a carrot out of the ground and totally lose his mind” said Johnson. “He’d never really connected that that’s where they came from. That’s how far removed society has become.”
There’s pure community and sustainable thought in every skerrick of soil. Even the chicken pens are flexibly rotated around the grasses for fertilisation. It’s a wonder what would be possible if we all ate seasonally and locally as a general rule, how much more in tune with the world we’d all be.
Enter Three Blue Ducks.
We’ve merged these two as they exist in such symbiosis. The Farm feeds Three Blue Ducks free range pork, eggs, chicken, beef, vegetables and herbs, Three Blue Ducks then takes the meat and interprets the ingredients to create the kind of food that nourishes the body and soul. The thinking being, if you’re going to eat meat you might as well do it right.
It’s something that owners Chris Sorrel, Darren Robertson (also chef) and Mark Labrooy have long championed at their first Three Blue Ducks venue in Bronte. A place where the kitchen is powered by rooftop solar panels, all organic waste is composted and the menu is constantly evolving, responding to whatever is in abundance at the time.
Three Blue Ducks Byron Bay is the same and then some. What can we say? The menu is brilliant, constantly evolving, adapting** and in harmony with the environment. Even the soft-drinks (the most synthetic thing we could think of to order, just to test them out) are made in-house and from natural ingredients. The ginger beer is especially good.
But behind the fun and the charm, for The Farm and Three Blue Ducks this isn’t about play time. There’s a great deal of thought, energy and effort that goes into practicing what they preach.
The best part? They’ll have you thinking twice before you ever buy a vegetable in plastic wrap again.
**Customers can feel confident that the crispy pork belly will always be in style (it just wouldn’t be Byron without it).
…leaving some extra time to explore the grounds. A visit to The Farm is more like a half-day experience, rather than a standard rush-in-rush-out meal.
Book in for a class at Farm Yoga, inside the restored old Queenslander house surrounded by towering palm trees.
Sign up for one of the on-site Milkwood Permaculture courses, learning skills for down-to-earth living and managing your own small farms at home.