November 16th, 20203bears: Just right
Sharing a love of ethically grown food and a belief that there is something primitive and fundamentally satisfying in feeding people, this newly formed family is already making a difference with the eggs and beef they supply to the local community.
Their large flock of Brave Hen chooks, (they even have their own Mel Gibson inspired catchcry…‘You can take our eggs but you’ll never take our freedom,’) and prized cattle have already made their mark on the local area with support from individuals and shops including an established food co-op, Woodend Online Farmers Market, Mt Macedon Trading Post, Tylden General Store, Riddells Creek Bakery, Black Forest Meats and the roadhouse in Carlsruhe.
According to Tim, their last round of beef hampers sold out so quickly they needed a second animal.
“We are so incredibly grateful for the community support we have received. People realise our grass-fed beef is premium quality and ethically raised and I think more folk want these assurances around where their food comes from,” he said.
“We love each of our animals and treat them with utmost respect. They also play a key role in regenerating our land, using rotational grazing techniques. We share a passion for ethical food production, native re-vegetation and regenerative agriculture.”
Cliched, but they truly are living their dream.
But five years ago, their lives looked very different to where they are today, sitting under a massive pine tree overlooking a postcard-perfect view with Leela happily taking in the views, animals and country air.
Madeleine’s journey had her stationed in remote parts of northern Australia, changing lives literally by working with remote traditional owners to set up the basics we all take for granted, like power and water. Testament to her belief in giving back and making a huge difference to those in need though, it couldn’t satisfy a hole in her life and Melbourne beckoned her with the chance of love in the big smoke.
For Tim, years as a high-profile PR and marketing consultant in the events industry and one of the organisers of a major music festival was his life. Despite his long-term dream to move to the country, he also knew the odds of finding someone to settle down with were more in his favour in the city.
With a little help from a dating site, five years on and they are now building their ethical and sustainable businesses with a baby in tow.
“We knew we needed to get out of Melbourne and had family and friend connections in Daylesford and Trentham. We both loved the idea of finding a piece of this beautiful country to revegetate and repair,” Tim said.
When they purchased their stunning patch of paradise in September 2018, Madeleine and Tim’s business plan was to slowly develop land into a working farm, showcasing ethical food production, native revegetation and regenerative agriculture.
But while COVID has forced everyone to navigate their own journey, for Tim and Madeleine the premature birth of Leela and their journey to parenthood far outweighed anything they endured during COVID.
“On the same day Tim was at a conference in the city discussing strategies for reducing drug harm at festivals, a colleague at work insisted I see a doctor. I was pregnant and she knew something wasn’t right. I’m not sure why but I collected a few personal belongings from work, including my violin, and my full-time work ended up being a hospital patient until Leela was born,” Madeleine said.
Madeleine’s calm disposition clearly helped her through that time. When she was allowed to leave hospital after Leela was born prematurely and only weighing 806 grams, her steadfast determination saw her expressing milk and visiting Leela daily. One of the greatest challenges during COVID was not being able to see family and friends as a new mum but she learned to embrace the challenges of a baby, a new farm and a new business head-on.
For Tim, the joy of becoming a father at 46 was “overwhelming, as I never thought I’d become a father”. He was attempting to keep it all together to support his girls but his own work was adding even greater pressure.
“Four days after Leela was born, bushfires swept through the music festival I was working on. With Leela in a special care nursery and with the festival’s future uncertain my mental health was really taking a battering. In the end I just had to focus on my family,” he said.
“Leela was discharged from hospital on February 20 this year and then COVID hit. I knew our dream of sustainable farming had to be fast-tracked and I knew I needed to bring in an income so we ordered the mobile chicken caravan and 300 chickens and it all took off from there. COVID motivated us to radically accelerate our plans,” he said.
So, while many of us were forced to slow down over COVID, or simply change the way we work and live, for Tim and Madeleine life has never been so busy or rewarding.
On top of running the farm, they have been working with the North Central Catchment Authority to rejuvenate their creek which runs into the Upper Coliban Reservoir. So far, they have planted more than 2000 mixed-species trees and have seen an increase in birdlife as part of the plan to restore the waterway health and regenerate the creek in preparedness for the area’s predicted population growth.
For now, they both look forward to one day getting farm sitters so they can take a break and the easing of restrictions which will mean they can finally have their parents share in the joy of Leela.
Until then it’s full steam ahead with 3bearsfarm, increasing the number of chickens and cattle and their dream of providing ethical, sustainable and local produce to their local community and beyond.
A little extra…
To throw your support behind this venture, you can become a regular purchaser, spread the word through your networks or become a Hub Host where you volunteer your space for others to pick up their produce. Go to 3bearsfarm.com.au or email your interest at firstname.lastname@example.org
Words: Narelle Groenhout | Images: Supplied