This month’s Wingham Farmers’ Market feature producers are Shane and Brooke Hulands of Hidden Valley Free Range.
The Hulands have 475 acres at Wherrol Flat. It is mostly timber, and they run cattle, pigs and chickens – all free range, using holistic management and low stress stock handling principles.
On their farm the cows eat down the long grass, and are moved on to another paddock. They are followed by chooks who live in the paddocks in mobile caravans. One hectare at a time is sectioned off with electric netting, and once the area is fertilised the caravan is moved on.
They say they’ve seen the soil improving, holding moisture better. They’ve also noticed the pastures change from bracken fern and Parramatta grass to having a significant increase in plant diversity, including a return of many native pasture species.
“For us it’s about seeing the land comfortable. If we see that we know the soil will be good and our animals healthy, creating a future for our children” says Shane. “We are doing what feels right and it seems to be working.”
“We’re redoing internal fencing so we have better control of our paddocks and letting the stock do the work for us.
“We don’t need to mulch or burn, the cows tread in the older grass to build the soil carbon, so we retain moisture in our paddocks.”
The Hulands moved up from Sydney for family health reasons to raise their young family. Shane had previously worked on a family farm. Brooke is city born and bred, but would never go back now. She says “I’ve never worked so hard in my life but I’m loving every minute of it, and it’s fantastic seeing the kids getting involved.”
“It’s not a job, it’s a passion” adds Shane.
Shane and Brooke sell pastured free range eggs at the markets and some retail outlets. Their beef is sold privately. They are in the process of setting up paddock to plate pastured beef and pork. Contact them via their Facebook page and keep an eye out for their webpage coming soon.
Wingham Farmers’ Market is on Saturday October 1 at Wingham Showground, between 8am and noon. New stallholders are welcome, with site fees waived at your first market. Direct stall holder enquiries to Annette on 6550 7213. If you have any excess produce to sell you can drop it at the community stall to sell on your behalf. Online at www.winghamfarmersmarket.org.au and Facebook.