TODD and Lisa Richardson and their three children—Laiken, Violet and Sapphire—live in a world of extremes.
There is the hustle and bustle of their very popular and busy NSW café LVS on Clarence in Port Macquarie.
And then there is the quiet and serenity of their 130 ha farm, just 25 minutes away on Rollands Plains.
The café menu features choices such as pork rillettes, bacon and eggs, house baked breads, seafood, chicken, salads and tasty treats — all with a local and
The farm is home to rolling hills, remnant bush and now a thriving farm operation consisting of 500 laying hens, a mixed bag of 30 odd pigs and 16 Square Meater cows (and one bull).
The farm originated as a bit of an extension of the café to support its ethos of using seasonal and local produce, but the love the family have developed for
the farm has taken them all by surprise.
“The farm 100 per cent came about because of the café,” Todd said.
“We have always been focused on supporting local farmers through our café because the food tastes better, there are fewer food miles and I have found
smaller farmers care and look after their animals and property well.”
But running a popular and busy café meant Todd needed a reliable and constant supply of product.
“We were working with local producers, but we didn’t always have consistency of supply, sometimes they would sell all their produce into the market leaving us
with none and that didn’t really work for us.”
Two years ago the couple took the plunge and bought their own property — an old rundown dairy farm with poor pastures — perfect for them to
regenerate from the soil up.
Todd is a firm believer in looking after the land and has chosen to farm holistically.
He completed a holistic management course at the start of this year and he is looking forward to implementing all he has learnt.
“The café is still the main focus for us, five days a week at the moment, and will be for a while yet, until we get the farm up and running the way we want.”
But that’s no big deal, the family is happy to juggle both for the time being.
“When I get home from the café, I strap my one-year old baby girl in the carrier and we do our farm jobs together — collecting the eggs and feeding the pigs.”
The couple have firm plans to build the farm to a sustainable point where they can make a living from it.
“The café will still be the key focus for us and we will continue to support local producers but using our produce through the shop gets our brand out into the
“And it will remain the driver for us to get the farm up to where it needs to be in the future.”
They currently sell their eggs through the café, along with some pork products that are processed by a local butcher as part of their dream of bridging the gap between consumer and producer as best as they can.
“Once people try our eggs compared to the supermarket variety, they usually don’t go back — educating people about where their food comes from is extremely important to us and is something we will definitely pursue down the track.”
The family has no shortage of visitors to the farm either, especially when it’s farrowing time for the pigs or calving time for the cows.
“We have friends who love to bring their families out when piglets are born and it really helps to bridge some of the disconnect between country and city and where our food comes from.
“Our friends can’t believe this is our home and the kids just love running wild around here.”
The couple may have only been farming for a few years but Todd said he has been amazed by the improvement in the farm in such a short time.
They currently run 500 laying hens and they form the foundation of the holistic approach.
The Isa Browns lay their eggs in a mobile caravan and fertilise the paddocks as they make their way around the farm.
“At the moment the chickens circle a 4 ha paddock three times a year and then move along to the next paddock that needs nitrogen.”
Eventually, after the appropriate waiting time, the free-range pigs will follow along behind the chickens.
“The soil is rock hard when we put the chooks in a new paddock and the change has just been amazing. We have gone from being unable to put a mobile fence post into the ground to them going straight in — the soil has gone from an awful light grey colour to a much richer soil after just two sweeps.”
Todd said he had also been amazed by the health of the very first paddock through which he rotated the chooks, it has gone from being one of the very worst on the farm, to one of the very best.
“We didn’t have a worm in the paddock and now there are earth worms everywhere. We also introduced dung beetles to the property and they are starting to establish themselves as well, its such a rewarding feeling.”
While there are patches of volcanic soil on the property, the majority needs repair and the holistic approach appears to be working very well.
Todd said he was hoping as the soil improved and the pasture grew, he would get to the point where he could feed his own cattle.
“Heading into winter I have to supplementary feed the cattle, they are not 100 per cent grass fed yet but they will be one day.
“Cows are such nice, calm animals to have on the property and we can walk through the herd now as they are very comfortable and settled here, and they also produce very tasty meat.
“Through my eyes if we don’t start looking after the farming land we have, we won’t have it in the future, it’s as simple as that.
“The public have a role in supporting small producers and I really do believe it will be the smaller farms who will play a big role in saving the planet.”