Over the years we have enjoyed getting to know Marg and Jason and their family from Hazeldean Forest Farm. They provide us with certified organic apples and nashi from January to July and deliver fresh each week over these months. A few years ago, our family visited Hazeldean for a farm tour and it is such a beautiful property. Hazeldean is nestled in the rolling hills of West Gippsland, Victoria, in Ellinbank (11km from Warragul).
When Marg and Jason bought the 92 acre property in 1986 it was predominately grazed land, a ‘green desert’ which was entirely pasture for dairy cows except for a few dozen cypress trees. They began to transform the property by designing and creating integrated biodiverse and sustainable ecosystems. They established a tree farm, forest, orchards, planted windbreaks and built a dam.
The four-acre dam with islands is a crucial design feature for irrigation and habitat for birds, fish and frogs. Numerous species of insectivorous bats & birds breed and feed throughout the property, attracted to the successful revegetation & wildlife corridors. They also work as biological controllers in the orchards.
The orchards were planted between 1988 and 1992 and have been certified NASAA organic for over 20 years. Now fully matured, there are variety collections of chestnuts, walnuts, persimmons, peaches, nashis & plums. There are also 30 varieties of apples, including heritage and cider varieties. We get to experience many varieties of apples with Hazeldean, starting with the first early season Akane to mid season Spartan to late season Fuji variety. We really are eating with the seasons!
Over the decades, Marg and Jason have created an arboretum of farm forestry with mature stands of deciduous and Australian hardwoods including Spotted Gum, European and American Oaks, Chestnuts and Walnuts. The extensive web of vegetation provide shelter for the orchards and paddocks, which are the habitat of a great many native animals.
Their neighbour happens to be the lovely folk at Elderlise Eggs, whose cows and chooks benefit from the biological infrastructure developed over the years. The trees especially provide the animals with a happy and healthy lifestyle. The cows enjoy the shelter and the tasty, nutritious leaves, while the chooks love to forage under the trees where food is abundant, and they feel safe from predators.