Set in the Wombat State Forest, Blackwood Ridge is a small boutique plant nursery featuring a modern restaurant nestled with almost 360-degree views of their productive kitchen garden. It is an oasis amidst the tall eucalypt forest.
Co-owners James Pethybridge, a trained chef, and Dan Sullivan, a horticulturalist, combined their skills and passion for gardening and home-grown produce to a create garden, kitchen and plant collector’s nursery. They wanted a place where you could spend an hour, or an afternoon.
Blackwood Ridge is the only completely off-grid nursery and restaurant in Victoria. “We only use renewable solar power for the everyday running of the nursery and restaurant, therefore making us one of Victoria’s true, carbon-neutral small businesses,” explains James.
The property, formerly named ‘Rainbow Acres’, a derelict strawberry farm, was bought twenty years ago for its rich fertile soil, natural springs and cool mountain climate, which seemed the perfect combination to build the gardens.
“We are committed to producing a low embodied energy product and look for ways to reduce energy use and recycle within the confines of the farm. What we are saving, will help to reduce our footprint on the earth,” explains Dan.
All plants are propagated, sourcing cutting material or seeds from existing plants within the garden, only travelling a few metres from the bottom of the farm, to the nursery at the front. ‘Teku’ pots are used, they’re made from recycled plastic, which can go into your recycling bin once you have planted your plants.
“Many people stumble across us, leaving amazed and already planning their next visit. Others discover us after a tip from a neighbour or friend. Word of mouth has proven powerful.”
Open for lunch Friday to Sunday; the restaurant offers food from garden to plate, unique local wines and good times. Once settled in the intimate high-ceilinged dining room, or on the private deck overlooking the duck pond, you can choose from large and small share plates followed by intricately designed, hand-made deserts. A favourite small share is the ‘Super Salad’. James subtly combines garden fresh greens, nuts, hummus, sunflower seeds, dried apple, berries and flowers. It’s a shame to disturb the beautiful arrangement.
This summer, Blackwood Ridge is making it easier to take pleasure from their nursery. Their latest instalment, a pop-up café, is offering lighter meals, cakes and coffee.
Blackwood Ridge Nursery is open Friday to Sunday 10am to 4pm. Blackwood Ridge Garden Room Restaurant serving meals Friday to Sunday 12pm to 2.30pm.