Barefoot Farm is the lovechild of Ash Jones and Matt James, and it’s a funny, if logical place for them to land after starting their careers in fine dining.
They’ve come full circle, and returned to familiar territory working with premium ingredients to produce sensational food. But this wasn’t their first Northern Rivers food adventure. Nor their second actually. When they first came to the area – to the counter-culture capital Nimbin – they lived in a worn out old bus and set up a market garden. After turning an overgrown paddock into a thriving organic farm and supplying their own catering business Matt and Ash then took on a new challenge: the hugely popular Eltham Valley Pantry.
The Pantry had been a pillar of the local food scene since 1997, with plenty of regional and local awards to its name. When the original owners looked to move on, it was the chance of a lifetime for Matt and Ash. It wasn’t just a café they were taking on though, as the Pantry was located on an 18 acre farm with over 300 established pecan trees. The two had a crash course in pecan production as well as the ins-and-outs of running the regional dining destination, juggling the two sides of the business for the six years that followed. And then COVID happened…
Finding a silver lining in the isolation of worldwide pandemic, Matt and Ash quickly shifted their focus, throwing chance to the wind and embracing the pecans with gusto. They made the decision to close the Pantry, transitioning from transition from café owners to full time pecan wizards!
The pair now have their hands full managing the pecan orchard biologically, without pesticides, and with a focus on natural fertilisation and soil management. Areas of the farm are undergoing bush regeneration and leftovers from the pecan harvests fed to their happy and healthy pigs. The farm harnesses solar power and Matt and Ash are working towards the farm becoming carbon positive.
Their range of pecan snacks (a word of warning, the dark chocolate pecans are dangerously addictive!), muesli, granola and edible flower garnishes are available from their stall at markets across the region as well as online. And much to the relief of locals and Pantry fans, their much-loved pecan pies are still baked every week. Don’t miss them!