I’ve been in sales for the past 35 years, however, I’m the happiest when my wife Kerry and I see Sydney in our rear vision mirror and are going ‘bush’. Before buying our farm South West of Grafton (bottom end of the Northern Rivers), I knew absolutely nothing about living on the land or being a farmer, grower, or planter – that’s where Gather By came in.
After meeting Matt, founder and CEO of Gather By, Kerry and I got excited. The wheels in our heads were spinning, knowing in our hearts that this was our way of getting out of the city and building something meaningful for our retirement (within the next 5-10 years). With guidance from Gather By, we found a suitable, made our land purchase in 2017 and we now have around 3,500 plants in the ground with the next 1,250 plants being planted this Spring of 2022.
Challenges & Benefits
The biggest challenge on our journey with Gather By has been working out what planting and growth methods work best for us and our land. Aligning with Gather By’s business model, we want to be as organic as possible and avoid using herbicides or pesticides. With the knowledge that we could achieve our vision of an organic farm, and after nutting out a unique strategy for our property, we planted Leptospermum in March 2019. These sturdy, native Australian plants are now over a metre wide and high. Due to their success, come Spring 2020, we harvested our first batch of Australian medicinal honey.
Gather By has been extremely helpful in tailoring a solution for our specific farm and connecting us with experienced beekeepers to help us get started. We could not have done this sort of project without the wisdom and passion of Gather By’s dedicated team of experts. They are absolutely fantastic to collaborate with – always available for a chat if we need anything and support is only a phone call away. We love being part of the extended Gather By family.
Australian Medicinal Honey
With new adventures comes learning. The most interesting thing about Australian Manuka honey for us is the fact that it is not only beneficial to use topically, but also internally. We learn more and more every day about the health benefits of honey, which is very exciting and makes us extremely proud to be a part of the process.
By becoming a grower and learning about the incredible process of honey production, we have decided to also become beekeepers. From the first steps of registering with the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and joining the local bee club, we now have four hives in Sydney metro and 20 hives on our farm near Grafton.
We had previously harvested a few hundred kilos of honey from our Sydney hives and had a goal of harvesting 1 Tonne of Manuka in 2022, however we have exceeded this target and actually have 2 Tonnes in total, 1.5 Manuka and 500kg of lower grade table honey. Gather By had first rights and have purchased our premium raw Manuka while we have a small distribution network of our own for the lower strength honey we have extracted.
Through working with Gather By and being introduced to companies like Soil Food Web and BioDynamic Australia, we have learnt about soil microbiology, composting and biodynamic principles, moon cycles for planting, and so on. This gives us the very best results and allows us to effectively put nutrients back into the soil.
It’s a Win-Win!
Our journey with Gather By has been a truly enlightening and fulfilling experience. Not only is our retirement dream of living on the land being realised, but we are helping regenerate native Australian bush, providing healthy habitats for bees, and producing some of the world’s best honey – it’s a win-win-win! We’re in love with this process and our lives have been all the more enriched on every level from planting a Medicinal Honey Forest with Gather By.