Hi Farmsteaders, I’m Bethany from Gracemere Farmstead. I am the chief fence mover, all round have a go at everything. I am also the author of this blog. So who are Gracemere Farmstead? Gracemere Farmstead is an integrated multi-species, grass-based, beyond organic family farm located in the beautiful Northern Rivers of NSW.
Grass-based means that all of our animals base their diet on grass. We have a variety of animals on our (‘multispecies’) farm; cows, pigs, sheep, ducks, chickens and horses. We practise rotational grazing which means our animals are moved regularly onto fresh pastures. This improves the fertility of the land through the spreading of the animal’s manure across the pasture and the animal’s disturbing the soil by moving across it in a systematic way. The animals love their new ‘patch’ of grass. Currently the calves, sheep and horses ‘live’
as a multi species herd in which they are moved to fresh pasture regularly as a group together. The cows and egg laying chickens are moved in a ‘leader follower’ system in which the chickens follow the cows spreading their manure across the land. The ducks follow the pigs in a similar fashion. While omnivores (chickens and pigs) do need supplemental feed in the form of grains they are run on grass and grass forms a part of their diet.
We call ourselves beyond organic as we do follow organic principles but are not certified. Our chickens are raised in a brooder for the first 2-3 weeks of their life but are then moved outdoors and spend the rest of the lives on pasture 24/7. Our birds are not given any antibiotics for prophylactic and/or therapeutic purposes. The feed we use is certified organic which means that it has to come from organic production (no chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides used). Our chickens are ‘pasture raised’ which means they spend all of their lives, from when they leave the warmth of the
brooder, outside, enjoying fresh green grass and enjoying the sunshine. In comparison free range meat chickens are produced using similar management, housing and feeding practices as conventional meat chickens. The major differences are that free range chickens are allowed access to an outside run for part of day(http://www.chicken.org.au/page.php?id=6#FreeRangeAndOrganic). Being ‘beyond organic’ means that we use the principles of organic certification and in addition our chickens benefit from fresh pasture each and every day from when they leave the brooder.
So why did we start farming in the first place?
Originally City Slickers we moved from Canberra to Nambucca Heads and enjoyed living 2 years on the coast. We then set off on a 18 month trip around Australia at the start of 2013. We had a Ford Transit van and a caravan which had to fit 5 kids and 2 parents. After watching documentaries like Food INC and Back to Eden and reading the likes of Joel Salatin and Bill Mollison our passion for earth-healing, nutritious food was fired. (Our blog from our travels is here if you are interested http://familytravelinoz.blogspot.com. au/)