Living the dream has become a reality for the Mihelffy family, as they pursue a fresh and wholesome lifestyle in their own little piece of paradise. The Mihelffys open their property to the public every Sunday from 10am – 2pm, so you, too, can experience quality locally grown produce …
How long have you lived on your property at Karangi?
Our family moved to the property just over 3 years ago.
We made a few changes to try and lighten the load, by fencing paddocks so that we could run livestock. The animals help fertilise the land, keep the grass manageable and will provide us with meat in the future. It has been hard but fulfilling work. Our intention was to develop the property, so it could provide us with food and serenity.
Describe the property … how many acres do you farm, and what are some of the geographical features of interest?
The property is 34 acres, located in the beautiful Orara Valley. We are surrounded by State Forest on 2 sides, a natural pathway for wallabies and deer, backing on to the Karangi Dam.
The land is a little basin within itself, with a dam for the ducks and natural springs that bubble when we have a lot of rain.
The name of your property is very apt – Me-Healthy Farm – when we consider your surname, but how does the name capture your farming/lifestyle philosophy as well?
In the past, people have had trouble pronouncing our family name Mihelffy, so then we decided to name the property ‘Me-Healthy Farm’. It describes the lifestyle we wanted to create for our 3 boys: Brodi (11), Tom (6) and Jack (5). Hopefully, the process and philosophy of eating fresh and working with our environment will impact on them.
What are some of the crops/produce you grow on the farm, and what quantities do you generally produce each year?
On our property we have approx. 90 custard apple trees, 40 macadamia, 200 pecans, 50 avocado trees, a small citrus orchard and a well-established veggie garden. We have been doing the Coffs Growers Market each Thursday for the last couple of years and found more and more people asking to buy direct from the farm. Basically, that is how the Farm Shop idea and concept really evolved for us.
Your collection of livestock is quite eclectic too. What animals call your property home, and can visitors to your farm get up close and personal with any of them?
We have approx. 20 sheep, 10 new lambs, three ducks, Bruce the Ram and his best mate Wilbur, the Shetland Pony. Liam and Olympia the Alpacas will surely give you a laugh. At 12.30pm every Sunday, we feed the animals; it gives the young ones (and old ones) a chance to get up close. We must mention ‘Ruby’, our little lamb – her survival was thanks to Brodi (our oldest boy) bottle feeding her on frosty winter mornings. The satisfaction of seeing the kids smile as they give Ruby a bottle at feeding time is amazing. A lot of parents say their child has never seen a sheep in real life – that is a real buzz.
What organic principles and practices do you use on your property?
On the farm, we grow everything as chemical free as possible. Our produce is not certified organic, but we are proud to say we are nearly completely chemical free. The concept of mulching and mowing keeps a lot of weeds at bay and luckily with all the amazing information around about combating pests naturally, we are doing OK. Being in the garden is so fulfilling and when we hand water, it is a great time to spot snails or caterpillars – the ducks love them. Wallabies have been our biggest threat to growing, but chicken wire fixed that.
You hold open days on your property on Sundays, between 10am and 2pm. What can visitors see, do and purchase on these days?
Once you have arrived, head straight over for a look at the sheep and the Shetland Pony in the pecan paddock. We have lucerne available and ask only for a gold coin donation to help pay for the feed. Relax with a homemade treat and an organic coffee or tea. Stock up on some fresh produce: bananas, tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, silverbeet, potatoes grown in Ulong, free range local eggs, lettuce straight out of our garden, Russian or purple Italian garlic and many more healthy options. We have a little shop where it’s great to pick up gifts; maybe you need some natural goats’ milk soap (great for your skin) or candles that are made from soy and smell divine.
Some really talented local ladies have worked hard to bring you homemade blueberry jam, or maybe raspberry tickles your fancy. You can’t go past the zucchini pickles or onion jam …
There are crystals to collect and other beautiful things available; there is something for everyone! Last but not least, we have a range of herbs for healing or just to add that special touch to your meal, and try and grow organic seeds or seedlings. There’s much more – come and see!
With the fresh country air, we are just trying to create a relaxing atmosphere for all to enjoy.
How can people find you or contact you to find out more about your produce and open days?
The Me-Healthy Farm is located at 147 Upper Orara Rd, Karangi, which is 11 km directly west – a short (10 minute) drive from the heart of Coffs Harbour – up West High St/Coramba Rd. At the Karangi shop, turn left onto Upper Orara Rd, and travel 1.5 km. When we open, we put a large golden flag out the front. Feel free to call Sam on 0409 543 711 or Aaron on 0423 490 008. Come say G’day at the Coffs Growers Market on Thursday!
Keep an eye on Facebook Me-Healthy Farm, as we are planning larger days with other stall holders, music and farm based workshops/activities.
Finally, we wanted to take the chance to say thank you to everyone who has embraced the Sunday concept, particularly the local growers and producers. If everyone is thinking, eating and spending local, then this can only benefit the Coffs Coast.
Thanks Aaron and Sam.
Interview by Jo Atkins.
This story was published in issue 25 of the Coffs Coast Focus