The future of the remaining 18 acre pocket of Buena Vista Farm, on the coast just south of Gerringong, is assured, with official confirmation of their continued right to farm on E2 land coming through from Kiama Council.
Established as a dairy farm by the Weir family in 1859, Fiona Weir, her husband Adam Walmsley and their three children made a break from the city in 2012 to continue the farming tradition when her parents sold off the rest of the farm.
“Over that time, we have looked at many different ways of making a living on a small holding,” says Fiona.
“We started with biscuits, and then bone broth and fermented products, but discovered people were prepared to pay more for a service than a product, so we began offering cooking classes as well as selling the produce from our market garden.”
The popular classes, which encourage people to cook from scratch, have become a must do for locals and visitors.
“It genuinely means a lot to us to help people start their journey to an unprocessed diet,” says Fiona.
But it is their latest venture, making cheese from the milk of their goat herd, that she feels has cemented the future direction of the Farm.
“We plan to be milking goats and making cheese when we are 80,” she says with a smile.
“I have always loved goats, and I finally got to have them when my friend Winnie, an 80 year old retired dairy farmer, showed up here four years ago with three rescued dairy goats.”
They now have a herd of 25, set to grow in the coming breeding season, and are making marinated Persian Fetta and fresh Chevre to sell at the Kiama and Berry Farmers’ Markets and to some local restaurants.
“It is a lovely scale appropriate return to dairy after all these years,” she says.
“We can’t do anything on a big scale here. Everything we do has to be very small, but you can run enough goats to make enough cheese to make the investment worthwhile.”
Fiona believes food is so undervalued in Australia, which makes it hard for traditional farmers, especially on small farms, to stay on the land.
She’s glad they have found a way to keep viable as a food producer.
“We love being part of the Farmers’ Market each week directly and participate in our local food economy.”
Buena Vista is now the third cheese producer in the Kiama LGA, after the award winning efforts of Pecora Dairy and The Pines.