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. 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.
Eltham Valley Pantry had been a pillar of the local food scene since 1997, with plenty of regional and local awards to its name. It was a mainstay in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide for many years. 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 is located on an 18 acre farm with over 300 established pecan trees.
Fast forward, and the two have had a crash course in pecan production as well as the ins-and-outs of running the regional dining destination. With the Pantry now open seven days a week, they 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 are fed to their happy and healthy pigs. The farm harnesses solar power and Matt and Ash are working towards the farm becoming carbon positive.
Naturally the Pantry’s menu features their pecans in a number of ways, and we love to use the spectacular nuts across many of our meal pods. The Pantry is also one of our favourite stops on our food tours and as a word of warning, the dark chocolate pecans are dangerously addictive!