3.0 Oyster Experience
Part 3. Wynlen House Urban Micro Farm
Just a 60 minute drive from Batemans Bay, through the misty forest road along the Kings Highway around the Clyde Mountain, we arrived in the quaint town of Braidwood in NSW. Originally settled by Europeans in 1822 the town grew rapidly with the booming gold mining industry in 1851, encouraging population growth and building development. Braidwood is a beautiful stop for anyone driving to the capital from Sydney.
Our Oyster Experience tour and discovery of the south coast brings us to Wynlen House: an urban micro-farm with a focus on cool-climate growing and a slow-food philosophy. On the back porch of the gorgeous suburban bungalow, our winners along with Sean and Jo Connolly are introduced to Helen Lynch and Bronwyn Richards – the two women behind Wynlen House and artist/regenerative farmer Victoria Royds.
Wynlen House is an urban micro-farm, in that it is a market garden (growing and selling its own produce on a commercial scale) within a 1000m2 large town block of land in suburban Braidwood. Starting from humble beginnings in 2006, with 6 local households committed to purchasing the produced grown on the farm – we fast forward 11 years and Wynlen House now supports itself by selling at weekly farmers markets, supplying to local cafes and restaurants, regular open days and collaborative dinner parties, as well as educational online tutorials and onsite workshops.
Our group is guided through the impressive gardens by Bronwyn, her knowledge and passion for growing is impressive and endearing. Aside from the challenges of growing in a cool climate region (Braidwood being privy to over 110 days of frost annually and regular night time temperatures of -7 C), what is made abundantly clear is their mission to educate the general public about the slow food movement: enjoying seasonal and local produce, free of chemicals and pesticides while looking after our soil, the environment and our agricultural industry.
So what is slow food farming anyway? Quite simply it is an approach to growing and raising animals based on a concept that is defined by 3 interconnected principals: GOOD, CLEAN and FAIR.
GOOD: quality, flavoursome and healthy food
CLEAN: production that does not harm the environment
FAIR: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers.
Wynlen House produces 2 tonnes of produce annually, the variety is exciting and eclectic – from Asian greens, to leeks, rhubarb, radicchio, Italian lettuces, garlic, pumpkin and radishe. The produce is vibrant in colour, the flavour is pure and far superior to anything you’d find at any generic supermarket. As a chef, Sean is in his element – picking and tastings are encouraged as Bronwyn talks us through basic crop rotation, compost and soil nutrition.
We are introduced to the feathery friends who also reside and support the farm: chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys all enjoying a wonderful life in their own patch of urban oasis. The turkeys being 6 weeks old are rapidly growing in preparation for the Christmas season, Helen introduces us to the curious flock at feeding time – Manuel the goose honking defensively in the background…
Throughout the experience we are treated to a personal tour of the work by sculptor Victoria – part of the Queanbeyan/Palerang annual Arts Trail, her artwork focuses on the human condition particularly issues of female identity in western culture. The pieces are thoughtful and provocative, nestling comfortably in the idyllic surroundings of the farm, Victoria also sharing her wealth of knowledge in farming throughout the tour with the guests.
As the tour concludes we sit down and enjoy a delightful lunch by local cafe Provisions Deli, filled ciabatta rolls, gourmet chips and artisan juices (Provisions Deli also hosts the produce stall on Saturdays). Sean purchases a bunch of freshly harvested rhubarb for wife Jo who loves to make a batch of rhubarb compote to put on her morning muesli with yoghurt!
Since our visit to Wynlen House, Bronwyn and Helen visited us at The Morrison for a birthday celebratory dinner (kindly bringing us a bunch of turban garlic harvested only 3 days prior – lucky us!) We talked all things garlic, farming life, sharing ideas and recipes – and even discussed the idea of a garlic tasting experience in the new year at The Morrison… stay tuned!
If you’re interested in learning more about growing garlic in your own slice of garden, whether it be in a backyard or a small balcony, check out their online tutorial for more information.