Affiliate Profile: Rainbird Farm
By Alison Rogers, EcoNetwork committee member.
‘We love to see small farms catering to their local community and we are so happy to have the opportunity to provide our produce to a growing lively and appreciative group of people.’Rainbird Farm, EcoNetwork’s newest affiliate.
I first met Dom and Taz, the owners of Rainbird Farm, at the gala dinner launch of the Sustainable Futures Festival in July 2022. It was then that I first heard about the experience of two young farmers, based in Port Stephens, growing mixed seasonal vegetables, fruits and herbs using organic and biologically-minded growing practices. And it was particularly exciting that Rainbird Farm not only applied to have a stall at the festival, but also signed up to be an EcoNetwork affiliate.
Rainbird Farm uses sustainable and regenerative farming practices to reduce its environmental impact and produce tasty, nutrient-dense vegetables. It aims to provide vegetables directly to the residents of Port Stephens so we can get the freshest possible veggies – not only reducing food kilometres but also creating a genuine farmer to consumer relationship.
Dom and Taz have always been passionate backyard gardeners, setting up small veggie patches in every rental they occupied. They started exploring permaculture and undertook formal studies with the intention of starting an urban permaculture design business. And eventually they found the right parcel of land for a market garden – Rainbird Farm. What’s in a name – why Rainbird Farm? Taz explains:
‘It was inspired by my parents property which got the name after visits from the migratory Pacific Koel, colloquially know as the Rainbird, as its calls are more common before and throughout rainy weather. We automatically liked it as rain brings growth, life and abundance.‘
And what was the underlying motivation for starting Rainbird Farm:
‘We are concerned about the negative impact that large-scale agriculture can have on the land… we know about the degradation of quality crop land by conventional agricultural practices, pollution from farm run-off, food shipped in from overseas, and food wastage. We were also unimpressed with what was available at the supermarkets. These were problems we saw we could potentially play a role in fixing, even if only on our small scale in our local area.’
They are always trialling new things and learning as they go. ‘We love growing the majority of our own food and providing it to excited customers. Growing unusual and different crops keeps us on our toes!’
As EcoNetwork highlighted in an article last year titled Preventing Burnout, it is essential for people to ensure they look after themselves while undertaking their passion in life. Dom and Taz try to uphold their own rule not to work at weekends. Instead, they recharge their batteries at the beach several times a week where Dom swims and Taz surfs. Or you will find them bushwalking or hanging out with friends or family. It is hard for them to keep away from the farm as they love working outdoors and find great satisfaction in physical work – particularly in summer when the days are long and everything just keeps growing!
Discussing the value of being part of a network of like-minded people, Dom and Taz said:
‘Being a part of the EcoNetwork for the past year or so has as been great! We’ve got to attend events and meet people we otherwise may have missed. It’s awesome that such a group exists in our local area fighting for and highlighting the need to protect and preserve our ecosystem right here at home!’
If you are interested in getting your hands on some of Rainbird Farm’s produce, they have veggie boxes available for pick up from Bobs Farm (3327 Nelson Bay Rd) on Thursdays from 3-6pm that you can pre-purchase from their online store from 3pm Monday – 7am Wednesday.
When you purchase a veggie box they harvest the veggies for you. This helps reduce food waste and enables them to plan ahead. You will also find them at the Earth Market in Maitland on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month.