This age-old term gets thrown around loosely, but we’ve been putting a lot of energy into our sustainability efforts, recycling and creating systems which allow us to tread on ol’ mother earth, with a slightly lighter touch.
From our guest accommodation to our dairy and general farming practices, we’ve focussed on a few of these game changers, which have made the most noticeable impact on Oakhurst Farm.
It all starts at home
Compost heaps, separating of recyclable items from general garbage and creating an awareness within our accommodation, were some of the early steps we took. Over time the reduction of our black bags (normal waste) vs an increase in our green bags (recycling) became noticeable, and we’re getting pretty close to tipping point, where green bags rule and Oakhurst celebrates!
Our farm milk, traditionally presented to guests in plastic bottles, needed a fresh approach to its packaging and presentation. We teamed up with two local restaurants (Salina’s and Pomodoro’s in Wilderness) to collect their glass drink bottles to re-use as milk bottles. These bottles are collected, sterilized, filled with Oakhurst’s delicious fresh milk and labeled with our funky swing tags. They look great and are available in the guest accommodation as well as our farm shop. This approach is a massive cost saving and eliminates the need to purchase more plastic, not to mention the fact that the glass bottles can be reused over and over again.
We’ve recently revived the old Oakhurst veggie garden, which we shamefully admit had fallen into neglect over the past few years. The garden is prolific, churning out a healthy crop of beans, spinach, pattypans, tomatoes, lettuce and herbs. A selection of this produce, along with our farm eggs (free-range of course), fresh milk and homemade Bulgarian yoghurt are being used in our guest food hampers. Give one of these hampers a try on your next stay, they’re a real hit amongst guests.
All firewood available in our accommodation is made up from alien vegetation, cut and cleared on the farm. Oakhurst is now virtually free of alien trees, but we’re continually managing the indigenous forest edges, where alien trees are ringbarked or removed to allow regeneration of the indigenous growth below them and expansion of the forest footprint. A feel-good thought for your next fire in one of our cottages.
You’d be amazed at how much manure is produced in our dairy during the two daily milking cycles! Nothing goes to waste here either. The wash-down manure water runs through our settling dams and on into the holding dams. The settling dam content is periodically mixed with shavings and wood chip collected from our local sawmill, producing fantastic compost, which we spread on the lands. The water which ends up in the lower holding dams is then pumped back into the irrigation lines to be reused in our centre pivot irrigators, ultimately landing up back in the soil – it’s a complete cycle, nothing goes to waste.
Farming for the future
We’ve geared much of our farming operations around the reuse of organic materials such as the mowing of unpalatable grasses which our cattle don’t eat. We spread this as mulch on our pastures, which earthworms take down into the soil, building up a nutritious layer. Silage, is a fodder that we make up from grass and oats harvested on the farm and stored for the following winter. The dry and airtight storage is vital for fermentation to produce a healthy feed. To ensure that no air or moisture get in, we compact the piles and cover them in sheeting, packed with hundreds of used car tyres to avoid the sheeting blowing away. These old tyres are sourced locally…another great use for an otherwise disposable product.
What started as something very small within our own farm kitchen has extended into just about every part of Oakhurst’s daily operations, and continues to develop and grow.
So know that on your next visit to Oakhurst Farm Cottages, you’re part of our waste not, want not philosophy. From the restored buildings you’re staying in to the farm produce and firewood you’re using, you’re in the loop!