Greg Cromwell – Farmer Cookbook Extract

A man with a big heart and deep roots in farming, Greg is a sixth-generation farmer. Growing up, he spent summers on his grandparents’ farm in Canada. It was under their watchful eyes that he gained a love of the land, managing livestock and all the responsibility that comes with running a family farm.

After a stint in the city, Greg’s life took a turn when he met his wife, an Australian who wanted to marry a farmer. He gave up his fast-paced entrepreneurial life in advertising to move off-grid to a cabin to raise chickens. His love of the land was reignited in the Byron Bay hinterland in New South Wales.

Greg’s family has now been in Byron Bay since 2001, working as heritage breeders of Dexter Cattle, English Large Black Pigs, kelpies and poultry. They also have a market garden full of citrus, avocado, and coffee trees. “Our family farm in Canada goes back to 1853 and my mum still works the farm,” Greg says. “I’m guided by an old family quote, ‘as long as we have this farm you will have a roof over your head and food on your plate’. I just want to create a simple, hard-working, independent lifestyle for my family like my great grandparents did. There is something about being very hands-on, with the whole family involved in getting their hands dirty, that fuels my fire.”

Greg’s favourite time of the day is what he calls “beer o’clock”. “It’s not knock-off time, but it’s often the most productive and special time of the day,” he says. “The sun is usually past the yardarm and it’s time to feed the animals and do some stock work with the dogs and horses. In the early evening, we put some water on the gardens and get dinner going.”

Greg takes pride in being self-sufficient and not having to rely on the farming income to sustain the family, but he admits he is happiest working with his wife and daughters, “doing anything from putting our cattle through the yards, to delivering our heritage breeds to family farms that are starting up”.

Harvesting and cooking are a big part of life on the farm, Greg explains. “We all love fresh food and are not afraid to get stuck into turning roosters into delicious stock. We waste nothing on the farm: all the bones are used, including heads from the pigs to make big batches of beautiful rich broth. But nothing excites me like working with our animals and learning from them. We are now blessed to have second-, third- and fourth-generation animals from our breeding. I came up with a war cry for our family farm: Heritage breeds happiness. We really breed our animals to live happy lives.