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Hunter & Pumpkin Farm Store was established by one of the oldest farming families in Milton on the New South Wales’ South Coast. While Milton Village may be small, its surrounding countryside is breathtakingly beautiful and its people’s agricultural, artistic and creative talents are immense. Hunter & Pumpkin Farm Store links our farm with beekeepers, craftspeople, artists and local businesses to create the loveliest small batch, handcrafted products inspired by farm life. Get to know the people behind the products in our farm craft gift boxes in our “Meet the makers” posts. Hunter & Pumpkin Farm Store is a farm diversification initiative.

Meet the makers: Say g’day to the creative duo behind our tote bags

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Say g’day to Lorraine and Beth, the creative duo known as Needle Nannas Cobargo and the skilled needlewomen behind our farm store’s beautiful tote bags.

Lorraine and Beth met in Cobargo, a tiny village on the far South Coast of NSW, in early 2007 and, ever since, have been sewing and baking together.

Sewing is Lorraine’s passion: making clothes, bags and cloth dolls brings her joy.

Creating wall-hangings, quilts, bags and general patchwork are Beth’s creative loves.

Together, Lorraine and Beth produce the small batch, handcrafted tote bags that we sell via our online farm store and include in our gift boxes.

Each tote bag, crafted from all-natural fabric, is beautifully and skillfully sewn. And, to add to their loveliness, each is given a unique name: In The Pink; Hello Blossom; Let’s Bee Friends; True Blue Flora; Cat Walk; etcetera.

You may be wondering why we connected with this creative duo from Cobargo, especially given that Cobargo and Milton are more than 160km apart. Two reasons lie behind why we asked Needle Nannas Cobargo to create our tote bags:

1. Cobargo was devastated by bushfires in late December 2019. The community, right now, is still dealing with the impacts of that bushfire -– and will be for a long time yet.

2. Our farm’s young stock -– on agistment on farms near Cobargo –- were caught in the bushfires that tore through Verona, Quaama and Cobargo in December 2019. We lost young animals during that bushfire but the lives and businesses of many of our Cobargo and Quaama friends and farmers were upended completely in a matter of hours.

These lovely tote bags, made exclusively for us by Needle Nannas Cobargo, are a small way of showing our support for Cobargo, especially its creative women, as everyone there continues to recover and rebuild after the fires. Without doubt, our favourite totes are the bee-themed bags, made with skill and love by Needle Nannas Cobargo, which we include in our Wonder of Bees gift box.

Lorraine and Beth volunteer at Cobargo Creators Gallery (60 Princes Highway, Cobargo, NSW, 2550) and have a baking stall every Saturday. For those of you passing through or visiting Cobargo, pop in to the Cobargo Creators Gallery to view more creations by Needle Nannas Cobargo or visit Lorraine and Beth’s baking stall.

Meet the makers: Fresh Scrubs creates an artisanal cow milk soap range for us

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Question: What happens when a dairy farmer and a soap maker collaborate?

Answer: A truly wonderful range of handcrafted cow milk soaps.

Fresh Scrubs, a Shoalhaven soap making small business, was asked by us to create a small range of cow milk soaps using fresh milk from our Montbeliarde cows.

Fresh Scrubs was set up more than seven years ago with the purpose of introducing natural and environmentally conscious products into our homes and lives. Soap is such a fundamental part of life that we often forget the huge contribution it makes to keeping us safe and healthy. (This is especially true during the covid-19 pandemic.) Adding simplicity to life, rather than relying always on store-bought soaps, is also part of Fresh Scrub’s mission.

After experimenting with formulations, Fresh Scrubs produced five variants that smell wonderful, feel fabulous on the skin, and contain only natural ingredients. They’re made exclusively for us by Fresh Scrubs.

The range pays homage to our Montbeliarde cows, the subtropical rainforest that grows on our farm, the citrus orchard on the farm’s flats, and the gardens that thrive because of Milton’s volcanic soils.

Fresh Scrubs’ artisanal soaps are made using the cold process method and cured for four weeks. Incorporating cow milk into the soap gave it a naturally creamy texture which delighted and surprised even Fresh Scrubs’ soap making expert.

Order your Farm Soap Gift Box from us and enjoy these wonderful cow milk, handcrafted, small batch soaps.

Why packaging matters

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Our customers are people who care about the impact of product and shipping packaging on the planet. We take this concern seriously, and have given a lot of thought to how we package our handcrafted, small batch, all-natural products.

Australians generated 67 million tonnes of waste in 2016-2017. That’s a lot of waste. And while we can’t be sure exactly how much of that waste is from retail packaging, it is important that we choose recyclable, reusable and compostable materials in our packaging.

Here are some of the ways in which we are trying to be smarter about our packaging and reducing its impact on Australia’s landfill:

Our honey is packaged only in glass jars. So, too, are our dried citrus slices and the preserves (coming soon). We choose glass packaging because it can be recycled or, better yet, reused.

We avoid using plastic to package our products, wherever possible.

We do not use Styrofoam nuggets or Styrofoam sheets in our shipping packaging.

Australia Post requires us to have protective packaging for products contained in glass or which can be damaged during transit. We aim to balance using as little packaging as possible with the need to protect your purchases during the process of shipping them to you. We choose acid-free tissue paper and / or wood wool as protective layering in our shipping packaging.

We use paper and / or cardboard boxes and packaging cylinders that can be recycled, reused or composted. We purchase these from Australian packaging companies who provide packaging solutions and products suited to home composting or which can be disposed of in an eco-friendly way at an industrial composting facility. The kraft cylinders we use in our products, for example, are purchased from an Australian company that has tested the rate of decomposition. These cylinder packages start to decompose within 3 months of exposure to temperatures above 30 degrees under home composting conditions.

The paper and cardboard we use for our product and shipping packaging can be added to a compost bin or compost pile (ideally, shredded or chopped into smaller pieces first). They can also be recycled when you include them in your recycling bin. Our natural kraft gift boxes can be reused for your own gift packaging in future or as storage boxes in the home.

Packaging choices are important. What you sell is as important to how you sell it.

Meet the makers: Janelle, artist and jewellery maker

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Have you worn your Wow Cow brooch yet? Where are you displaying the miniature landscape collage of Milton’s farmlands and Budawang Mountains? (We’d love it if you’d let us know via email or Instagram.)

The brooch and the miniature collage were created for us by artistic force of nature, Janelle Davis. It’s a privilege for us to have Janelle’s work included in our gift boxes. Janelle specialises in contemporary mixed media collage and handmade jewellery. Janelle created for us a range of art and jewellery for our exclusive use: bespoke Wow Cow brooches in our Fireside Dreaming gift box and landscape collage miniatures in our Natural Affinity gift box.

Janelle’s work spans tiny miniatures to large scale paintings, and all of it bursts with texture, colour and media such as hand-made papers, recycled fabrics and art prints from her previous work.

Each piece by Janelle is a one-off creation. The collage miniatures and jewellery, including the delightfully patterned packaging, created for us by Janlle are inspired by our farm’s natural beauty, the surrounding Budawang Mountains, and our cows grazing in the farm’s verdant paddocks. Janelle’s website is Little Bird Studio and her other wonderful work is available at Shop Three Gallery, Courtyard Studios, 69A Princes Highway, in Milton Village.

Meet the makers: Miriam’s hand-spun skeins and knitted crafts

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Sunflower fanatic. Passionate rugger. Colour expert. Wool spinner. Miriam Miller is the creative crafter behind the hand-spun wool skeins that feature in our Fireside Dreaming gift box. Miriam is also the skillful knitter of merino wool beanies that are the centrepiece in our Natural Affinity gift box.

To create the hand-spun skeins, Miriam spins Australian fleece into wool, then plies it with thread. Using Landscapes Dyes, and a keen eye for colour, Miriam creates skeins of wonderful colours and a distinctively knotty texture. It is a joy for us to offer our customers hand-spun products created by Miriam on her spinning wheel. Spinning wheel technology predates the Industrial Revolution (and the invention of the Spinning Jenny in the 1770s) and has origins deep in the ancient histories of the Arabian Peninsula, the Indus River Valley and the Far East. Farm and village life without skilled craftspeople to transform natural fibres into wool or natural cloth would have been intolerable without suitable clothing or the creature comforts that rugs, blankets and wall hangings provide.

Of farm cats and farm crafts

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Here at Hunter & Pumpkin Farm Store we’re blessed with not one but two brand ambassadors: Hunter the Cat and his feline brother Pumpkin.

Playful, independent, affectionate, intelligent, curious, Hunter and Pumpkin are farm cats living happy, healthy lives on one of the oldest farms in Milton, which is located on the New South Wales’ South Coast. They spend ridiculous amounts of time asleep in the sun or cavorting about the 161 year old farm’s paddocks, sheds, haystacks, fence posts and trees.

Our eponymous farm store, Hunter and Pumpkin, came into being after our farm — as well as the homes and farms, beehives, livelihoods and agricultural businesses of far too many of our neighbours — burned repeatedly during Australia’s Black Summer of bushfires in January 2020. Recovering from a bushfire takes more than simply putting out the flames. One of the biggest challenges is a psychological one: re-discovering joy and pleasure of living on a farm which has been significantly impacted by bushfires.

It is the simplest of things that help reconnect you to the land: the quiet majesty of trees; the flirtatious dances of wagtails; the slow march of an echidna across a paddock; the laughter of kookaburra; the gymnastics of two ginger farm cats.

Hunter & Pumpkin Farm Store represents the best of farm life: we take natural resources from the farm, share these with artists, crafters and local businesses, and ask them to create small batch, handcrafted products which we package into curated gift boxes of farm craft. (In a forthcoming post, we will share information about the makers of our tote bags from Cobargo on the Far South Coast which was massively impacted by the Badja Forest Road Fire in January 2020. We are thrilled to be working with Needles Nannas Cobargo on our tote bag products.)

Perfect for special occasions, our gift boxes can also be a lovely surprise for a friend. Plus, they’re an all-natural way to express gratitude to someone special, including yourself. When you buy one of our gift boxes, be assured that you are supporting real people who truly do live and craft and make art and create and farm and keep bees on the South Coast of NSW. We’re not a misleading hashtag. We are not a major business, with a suburban post box, disguising itself behind faux rustic packaging and agristic branding. Keeping it real is more than a slogan. Keeping it real is the right way to do business.