Getting back to nature

The Naked Farmers live off the grid


Life & Style
Sophie Love and Ged McCarthy, pictured with their son Ben, who run their Mid North Coast farm on 8kw of solar with 100 kw/h of storage. Photos supplied by The Naked Farmers.

Sophie Love and Ged McCarthy, pictured with their son Ben, who run their Mid North Coast farm on 8kw of solar with 100 kw/h of storage. Photos supplied by The Naked Farmers.

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Living off the grid, The Naked Farmers, use solar energy to power everything on their property in the Hastings Hinterland on the Mid North Coast.

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I guess we are accidental farmers. I bought this farm to run and write, and Ged had his bush block up the road to retreat to and raise cattle on. I met Ged when he came to quote an upgrade of the tiny solar system. He told me I would never be able to use a hairdryer, toaster, electric kettle or vacuum cleaner again. Back then we used 1 kilowatt with 15kw/hour of battery storage. Now it is 8kw of solar with 100 kw/h of storage that runs two houses, six freezers, fridge, lights, hoover, electric kettle and toaster and air conditioner.

As a vegan for over 20 years, I had no intention of raising animals for food. But after the arrival of my son things changed. We started with alpacas and our foundation cows Daisy and Paddy - and we have slowly built from there.  We have experienced every natural disaster of fire, flood and wild dog decimation of our beautiful Suffolk sheep herd.  

When we came here the farm was overgrown with blady grass and bracken.  We have slowly improved pasture with regular slashing and mulching, planting and allowing trees to grow to provide more shade and moisture retention, minimal seeding and more encouragement of native pasture and grasses.  As we have grown our herd slowly, the poor pasture has regenerated and come back to life. There were no dung beetles here when we arrived and we have seen their numbers increase as the pasture sweetens. We are not certified organic but we have always farmed organically as we want our food to be chemical free. 

We have slowly grown into a business as our friends urged us to take our products to market. The name The Naked Farmers came from a photo of toddler Ben and I on a hot summer’s day, naked at the wooden fence of the house paddock.

But also because we believe farming should be as natural or ’naked’ as possible - and that’s how we like our food - no chemicals added. 

For now, we are concentrating on the pantry products including salad dressings, Dukkah and honey as we add value to our home grown chillies, garlic and honey, as well as our pork and beef. 

With a 10-year-old and Ged’s business, The Solar Experts, we can’t do markets on the weekends as that is when the farmwork has to be done.

So our main business is online with free local delivery into the surrounding area.

In 2018 we won gold for our Fragrant Dukkah, silver for our Chilli Dukkah and gold for our honey at the Royal Hobart Show. Our honey and garlic dressing achieved a bronze in 2016.

We are passionate agvocates and started running bee courses with experienced trainer Ben Laybutt in 2014 to encourage others to Get Started with Bees.

We have regular open days with farm fresh food so people can experience our oasis where our happy herds free range over our 400 acres. 

We endeavour to reach out to people via our products and social media, to engage them in our journey and to make the important connection about where their food comes from.

The Naked Farmers are paddock to plate producers whose dukkah has won a number of awards at the Royal Hobart Show.

The Naked Farmers are paddock to plate producers whose dukkah has won a number of awards at the Royal Hobart Show.

Recipe

It’s that time of year when the veggie patch harvest has reached glut proportions. This is a summer/autumn favourite in our house - particularly with Ben. We use our homegrown honey and chilli flakes (dried in the sun) and Apple Cider Vinegar as it is so good for you, but I’m sure a wine vinegar would work equally well:

Ingredients:

  • Approx 900g cucumbers
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 80g vinegar
  • Sprinkle of chilli flakes, depending on your love for the hot stuff.

Method:

Place honey and vinegar in a large bowl and mix well. Add Chilli flakes to taste. Skin and chop cucumbers into rough cubes and place in bowl. Mix thoroughly, coating with the dressing. Then (and this is crucial) place in fridge for a few hours before serving. This lets the cucumber juice release and the flavours of the marinade to intensify and permeate. Stir again.

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