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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

Organic Forrest

The Forrest family farm lies within a 536 acre portion of land selected in 1883 by Charles Hicks, a butcher. Hicks writes: ‘I went to live on the selection about 2 months after taking it up and lived there 4 months and then split some slabs, built and lived in 8 or 9 months a small humpy. The land was then surveyed and I put up a kitchen and lived in the kitchen about 2 years. I then built a house little by little I had it completed about two years… The butchering kept me away two days a week from my home. No one had any interest in the land but myself… I have a house worth £60, Lawn weatherboard 27ft long 2 rooms, shingle roof, floored, Kitchen worth £10, Orchard 40 fruit trees £14, 41 rod fencing £10, 20 acres fell and under grass £140, 30 more felled partly under grass £120, 10 or 12 felled at £2, £20, Total £374.’

In 1899, 16 years after taking up his selection, Hicks had his purchase confirmed. Debt agreements made during his conditional period meant that the property was immediately divided into three portions. The eastern side of the property (of about 150 acres, or just over 60 ha) passed to Nathan Julian Simmous, solicitor, who had maintained a financial interest in the property since 1890. On that same day (25/07/1899) Simmous sold to Lovell Thomas Akers, dairy farmer, and the property remained in the Akers family, who kept it as a dairy until the 1960s.

From 1962 to 1978, the property was regularly sold (in 1962, 65 and 73) and subdivided (Desmond and Carolyn Kahler, 1973 purchasers divided 3 house blocks in 1976 and in 1977 they split the remaining farm in half and sold the 30.98ha north of the road to Robert Johnston, farmer, and William Snow, stock inspector). This pattern reflected the experiences of many dairy and then beef farmers in the region, who tried to continue going concerns but found little success except in land sales to those from the south, who were the beginning of a significant migration to the Northern Rivers.

In 1978 Dave Forrest joined these newcomers. He was looking in the area for a farm to try to grow food organically. He describes finding it ‘a steep, weedy block with the disused dairy bails on it that was owned by an absentee owner.‘ Not for the first time, living on this land was initially dominated by efforts to clear and establish food production. The family stayed, and established Organic Forrest, which has now been operating for over thirty years as a certified organic family farm, which produces organic fruits and vegetables, macadamia nuts, and coffee.

More detailed information can be found in Dave Forrest’s story and documents relating to the history of the property.

 

See more of the property

Please visit the Organic Forrest website, below.

Organic Forrest Landing Page

 

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