When Amanda Callan moved from a cramped two-bedroom unit in North Bondi to raise her children on a farm on the outskirts of Byron Bay, she realised how delicious a slower pace of existence can be.
"My seachange began when I was living with friends in Sydney. My husband and I felt the pull to move somewhere with more space and fresh air and we decided to move to Billinudgel, a small town just north of Byron Bay. The next chapter of our story began when we saw a church for sale as we were driving past. We called up straight away as we’d always loved the idea of living in a church, and the next thing it was ours!
At the time it was just an empty hall and a bare half-acre block of land – there wasn’t one tree on the entire property. So we planted lots of native trees, fruit, vegetables and herbs and converted the church to our home.
Today we live on the farm with our two sons Banjo, 4, and Percy, 1, and our seven chickens and rescue dog Maggie. It’s been so wonderful to show the kids from birth where their food comes from. If they’re ever feeling cranky, we take them to feed the chickens, collect the eggs, and chase them around the yard. It instantly makes them happy!
They’re often with us spraying each other with water, making mud pies or playing with the worms. The boys often come with me on delivery runs and we try and make it fun for them by stopping off for a swim in the river or an afternoon surf. We love the idea of a screen-free childhood, so having the space to be active and allow their imaginations to run wild is perfect for us.
Instead of having a traditional housewarming party we had a ‘tree raising party’ where we asked our friends and family who were insisting on buying us a gift to consider bringing an Australian native tree or fruit tree. It’s so awesome now as whenever we go to pick a grapefruit or kaffir lime leaves we remember our dear friends and family.
We also rent an acre of land up the road where we grow produce for the farmers markets and to help us make our own range of curry pastes, sauces, cold pressed turmeric juices and six different soaps free of palm oil and loaded with essential oils.
We love using solar infusions of the herbs we grow in our soaps, and our creams contain bush essences from our plants. We started selling our products at the New Brighton and Mullumbimby Farmers Market last year, and we are wholesaling our soaps and sauces around Australia. The soap business started as a hobby, but now we have a factory locally where we make 80 kilograms of soap a week. They’ve been so popular we also make soaps for Australian brands like the linen company IN BED Store.
The business is such a great way for my son Banjo to connect with his dad. They hop in the van at 5am, collect all our goodies from the farm, set up the stall, eat breakfast, and then Banjo heads off to preschool. Not a bad work ethic for a four year old!
It has been a great base for me while I complete my naturopathy degree through Endeavour’s Gold Coast campus. Eight years ago I was told to go on hormone replacement therapy and that I’d never have children because of my low oestrogen levels. I started looking for alternatives and found a great naturopath who works near Coffs Harbour who was a huge help.
She still treats my whole family actually, including the boys. She really inspired me and opened me up to the world of natural medicine. Eventually I’d love to incorporate my degree to take our business to the next level – that’s the dream."
Amanda’s four tips for people looking to start their own market stall
1. Get feedback on your products! Friends and family are the best guinea pigs so use them well!
2. Research the environmental impact of packaging and the ingredients you are using. Choose organic and ditch the plastic.
3. Do your homework on your market of choice. Some have long waiting lists, so you’ll need to get your application in sooner rather than later.
4. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing and selling – just do what you love!
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