Amanda Callan

Amanda Callan, co-founder of Church Farm General, lives her life according to the seasons. Together with her musician partner Andrew Morris, the couple has built a brand around seasonal fresh produce, delicious curry pastes and handmade soaps in heady botanical scents. Everything is a tribute to nature. Their home, an old timber church located in Billinudgel, is the family base for sons, Banjo, 5, and Percy, 2, and their life couldn’t be more charming. Here, in collaboration with Country Road, they share their weekend rituals

 
  1. Photographed by BRIDGET WOOD 

  2. Interview NATASHA INCHLEY

     
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T ell us about the philosophy behind Church Farm General, what was your inspiration? 

Andrew and I were looking for a home to renovate when we stumbled upon the church at Billinudgel [located on the outskirts of Byron Bay]. We signed the contract and had a baby within the same week – the church had no kitchen and we probably didn’t realise just how much we were taking on. Church Farm General was an accident of sorts – we used to grow everything in pots but when we moved in, we planted everything out. One summer we had an enormous crop of cucumbers and decided to hold a roadside stall out the front. Andrew had also bought me a soap-making book so I started making soap in the kitchen and soon we began receiving notes from shops asking to stock our products, it grew from there. Today, we mainly use ingredients from the farm, we grow a lot in the season, dry herbs and store them. We also have a dedicated work space – I used to make soap in the kitchen and Andrew would bottle his sauce at the same time with Banjo at our feet.

Can you describe life in Billinudgel, what do you love most about it? 

The pace of life is a lot slower here and we love the long days of summer. We spend a lot of time at the beach or the river, lazy lunches, group dinners with friends and time outside. There is less structure, less plans, less places to be, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s where the country meets the ocean so it is still rural with rolling hills. The produce at the farmers’ markets is amazing, that’s also big part of our life.

With two boys under the age of five, what is your viewpoint on motherhood? 

We like to let them be outside as much as possible and we try to lead by example, especially when it comes to food. Our aim is to show the boys that you can grow food and not be wasteful. Banjo is always picking up plastic at the beach, and we also have a rainwater tank so he understands that water is precious. We have minimal toys, not much plastic. We like to keep it simple.

How do you manage running a business with family life, any secrets? 

It’s an ongoing lesson. When you run your own business it can be hard to switch off. After five, I try not to check emails and I dedicate separate times to work and family.

Do you have certain family rituals, particular to the weekends, that you look forward to most? 

We love getting up early and heading down to Wategos for a family surf day, I’m getting right into it now. I meet with a group of other mums at the beach at around 5:30am, we surf and then the dads have their turn. We also love to go exploring along the river, it’s bliss.

A ndrew 's grilled fish with capers and peppers, a favourite family dinner:

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  2. Ingredients:
  3. Red and yellow pepper, capers, white fish, Italian parsley, red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper
  4. Method:
  5. Wash the salt from the capers and drain. Grill a red and a yellow pepper until the skins are blackened. Peel, remove seeds, then tear lengthways into quarters. Toss with olive oil, red-wine vinegar, Italian parsley, capers and black pepper. Grill fish over hot coals and season to taste. Serve with peppers and lemon cheek.

Lastly, true happiness is… 

Spending time with the boys and enjoying slow days when we’re able to fit in all the things we want to do.