Eight years ago, Jed Henderson and his wife, Sana, decided to move to the Northern Rivers so they could raise their young family in a rural region. They snapped up a 100 acre property at Corndale, and while it wasn’t a working farm at the time, Jed was determined to turn it into one.
After spending half his live in the army and construction, this first-time farmer didn’t have a lot of relevant experience to draw from but we decided to jump right in anyway. And Jed is the first to admit it was a huge learning curve.
‘We had always wanted to live on the land and incorporate permaculture practices into our lives,’ he says. ‘And we had both done a course in free-range farming and on permaculture, but there’s a big difference to learning about something and actually doing it. To be honest, I think the best thing is to not think about it too much.’
Jed started with one pig, and the farm literally grew from there. Today, Esperanza Farm is home to 80 pigs and the family-run operation produces a wide range of fresh, air-dried, smoked and cured pork products, which are sold at Byron Farmers Market every Thursday morning.
Jed says that ethical farming practices sit at the heart of everything they do.
‘Our pigs live outside and are free to roam and wallow and sunbake as much as they want,’ Jed says. ‘We don’t have any sheds, but we do provide shelter for them to use when they want it. We also hand feed twice a day and our pigs always have access to fresh water in an environment safe from predators. We also take care of the land, rotating the pastures regularly.’
How an animal is treated impacts on the flavour, Jed says. ‘We actually weren’t big pork eaters before we had our own animals, but you can definitely taste the difference with free-range animals. The fat content is higher and you get nice colour and a complex flavour as opposed to mass-produced pork products, which tend to be bland.’
The consideration of the animals at Esperanza Farm continues to the end-of-life stage.
‘When the animal is dispatched, we do it in a respectful way,’ Jed says. ‘Unlike mass producers, we don’t water down our pork products with heaps of mixers and cereals and marinades. If you do that, you’re not doing the animal justice. We also try to use nose to tail so there is no waste.’
You can find Jed at the Esperanza Farm stall every Thursday morning at Byron Farmers Market.
Byron Farmers Market is held Thursdays 7–11am at the Cavanbah Centre.