Looking back upon the wonderful and wild year that was 2022, we stopped to chat and reflect upon some exciting new updates and changes from our wonderful founding family, their farms and crazy cool endeavours towards sustainability and regenerative farming. I mean would we expect anything less from the fabulous family who founded our beloved Nutra Organics? They are udderly great!
A 2022 snapshot
Mark, Darlsy and their daughters Ricki and Britt are our wonderful family who founded Nutra back in 1998. Recently, Mark and Darlene moved to their new property, The Northern Rivers Estate. This estate is a property set aside as a destination and training facility for the next generation of kids. Mark and Darlene have planted an impressive 35,000 rainforest trees to regenerate their property while remaining 100% carbon neutral. As well as dedicating 20 acres to a permaculture market garden which will include fruit trees and seasonal vegetables which they will sell along with organic meat from Ricki’s farm.
Speaking of Ricki’s farm - Ricki and her family moved to their farm in January with their 3 kids, with her husband working full time on the farm. At the end of February our town of Murwillumbah was hit with horrendous floods, it rained heavily for about 3 months, how could we forget that one right? With the floods came extreme amounts of weeds, and being a 100% regenerative farm brought multiple challenges as you can imagine. Ricki commented saying “we have been learning to catch the rhythm of the seasons, and it might sound silly but looking to the land to prioritise our time through trial and error and lots of observation and reflection.”
The evolution of Nutra Organics since 1998
Nutra Organics started with a dream, from Mark and Darlsy to 40 staff members, 100 stores to 2000 stores and international distribution. Gradually the dream transferred via osmosis to their daughters who became a core part of the business too. Although the journey was a little rough in those early years, the family was committed to deeply nourishing people! Nutra Organics' range has grown and changed too, starting from a few small products into the extensive range you see today and will continue to grow in the years to come (and very near future too, wink wink).
Wild Five Farm is the very appropriately named farm that Ricki, her husband Simon and their 3 kids have dreamed up. The wild five are passionate about farming for regeneration of the land, carbon capture and cycling, soil health and pasture-raised livestock. They only produce what is good for the land, so there is a limited availability and only at particular times of the year. The land is a safe environment for both the family and animals with no chemicals, nasties or fertilisers.
Here’s a little snippet from Ricki herself - “we raise approximately 60 grass fed beef cattle, pasture raised pigs and pastured goats, rotational grazing on fresh pasture. We also have bees to enjoy their lovely honey and help with pollination and fertility. We are about to introduce 130 chickens to follow the cattle to help the cycle and the spreading of nutrients across our land, plus lovely fresh eggs everyday and a constant source of delightful entertainment! We have fallen in love with farming. It is beautiful and brutal and everything in between. It has taught us so much about our food systems, our soils, our driving force, our kids and ourselves. We have become accustomed to constant change which we are leaning into (most of the time).”
The founding families are trying to develop a fully closed system in each of the major cycles. Carbon cycle, energy cycle, water cycle, mineral cycle, microbial cycle and community that ties it all together. Take for example their water cycle; capturing their rain water in a series of dams, then watering livestock exclusively with that captured water, taking care to repair and restore the areas around the dams. As well as trying to slow water down with a series of dams in succession in order for the land to absorb as much as possible, making it more resilient to no rain and lots of rain. The families mentioned they are constantly monitoring the health of their paddocks as they are really soil farmers above all else, testing for minerals and observing the level of animal impaction which is so important.
What’s next for the family
Mark and Darlene’s vision is to expand their balanced lifestyle of mind, body and spirit as they leave behind a legacy for future generations. And as for Ricki and her crew, their vision is to grow as much as they can eat on their land and feed up to 50 families in their immediate community. They will continue to build soil health and diversity in all their systems to mimic the natural cycles of nature. Ricki commented that 2023 is their garden adventure, planting a three mandala system to grow enough produce to feed themselves and all those who work with them on the farm to begin with, as well as introducing some products they are passionate about like tomato relish, pickles, preserves and more. Yum!
We’ll leave you with this quote from our gal Ricki (both literal and a metaphor) that accurately sums up 2022 and beyond. “What we know is that there is so much we don't know and that we are committed to the journey of learning on the daily. We will continue to seek a deep connection with the land and the animals under our stewardship and have as much fun and deliciousness as possible in the process.” - Ricki Harrison