There's a dry clatter of dragonflies cutting through the air as they hunt down destructive cabbage moths one white menace at a time.

There’s a dry clatter of dragonflies cutting through the air as they hunt down destructive cabbage moths one white menace at a time. Elsewhere on Brooklands Free Range Farm, there is the sound of frogs, birds warbling in the trees, and the occasional bellow from a cow and a grunt from a pig. Over the past 12 years since Natalie Hardy and Jono Hurst bought their Blampied farm, west of Daylesford, they have slowly turned their backs on modern farming practices. Instead they have embraced methods that use natural environmental cycles to improve soil health and water quality, and biodiversity. It is called regenerative farming, a practice gaining ground globally as farmers work to repair the damage done to farmland and increase the productivity of their land without chemical fertilisers and pest control.

Natalie and Jono raise rare breed Berkshire pigs and British White Cattle producing exceptional pork and beef. “We have enlisted an underground army of naturally occurring microscopic bugs, bacteria, fungus, and other living creatures that turn manure and dead grass into valuable nutrition,” says Natalie. “This feeds the grass – which creates more leaf matter through photosynthesis – which feeds the animals. Their manure feeds the underground army,” she explains. “When we started, we had soil carbon under 0.5%; now it’s 4.5%.”

“What we have in this region is a high number of like-minded regenerative farmers,” says Natalie. “We produce some of the best, and can I say award-winning, produce in the country. You’ll find our food on the menus of our top restaurants, in the markets, and the shelves of local stores. Our farms are better, our animals are healthier, and the produce is more nutrient-dense than conventionally farmed food. And it tastes so good.”

Brooklands Freerange Farms beef and pork is available at the Sunday Daylesford Market.

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Josh Williams from Tumpinyeri

Another of the Daylesford Macedon’s regenerative farmers is Sam White from Sidonia Beef in the Cobaw Ranges east of Kyneton. Sam raises Angus, but runs them to emulate the massive herbivore herds of the African savannah. “We have one mob of 200, and we put them all into one paddock,” he explains. ” It may sound counterintuitive. But the cattle eat the grass and knock down the stalks, so the soil microbes break it down. They manure the paddock at the same time. After a few days, we move the herd on.” Sam has been farming this way since 2016, the farm is now entirely covered in perennial and native flora and no longer has parasite problems. Buy Sidonia Beef boxes online at

While growing vegetables is one of the most intensive forms of farming, Josh Williams and his business partners, Nick Judkin and Rex Chalmers from Tumpinyeri Growers at Captains Creek believe they are doing the right thing for the environment. “It is all about letting the natural processes go about their course,” he says. He and his team protect the creek nearby, home to the dragonflies who keep the pest insects down. They don’t use chemical sprays and choose compost over chemical fertilisers. At the end of autumn, the irrigation will be rolled up and the potato, zucchini, greens and wildflower beds will be given over to sheep and cattle. In spring the composted and manured ground will be sown with a cereal crop and then turned over to perennial pasture. Although only cultivating a hectare, Tumpinyeri Growers produce enough vegetables to have a weekly stall at Daylesford Market, supply Blake Family Grocers in Daylesford and have a CSA subscription scheme.

Covering 4000 hectares of regenerative egg production is the Honest Egg Company, covering several farms around the Daylesford region. Founder Paul Righetti is from Swiss Italian stock and says raising hens for eggs on pasture is just like farming used to be before chemicals and sheds and cages. He continues, “we call it ‘regenerative’, but it is just how my grandparents used to farm.” He has flocks of chickens that graze in open paddocks, feasting on grass and bugs. So they are not turned into dinner for foxes themselves, they are protected by Maremma dogs, a breed of canine dedicated to protecting other animals. The hens roost at night in specially built mobile sheds. After a few weeks, the chooks are moved on to greener pastures. Their manure is turned into valuable nutrition for plants by the soil microbes where the hens grazed. The end results are full-flavoured eggs, with orange yolks and strong whites perfect for breakfast or baking.

Honest Eggs Co. is a good-sized company for a country town employing 25 people in farming, packing and logistics with eggs sold around the East Coast including local stores and independent supermarkets around Daylesford, Hepburn and the Macedon Ranges.

Next time you come and visit us, drop by a local store, eat at one of our restaurants or head to a farmers market to buy or try some of the best produce on earth that is doing its bit to heal the planet.

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Honest Eggs Co

About the author

Cornish Richard
Richard Cornish

Richard Cornish is an award winning food writer whose love of the land lead him to explore the issues around food, where it comes from, how it gets to us and why some foods taste better than others. He writes for The Age, SMH, DMT Life and has written eight cook books including co-writing the Movida series with Frank Camorra.