There’s something satisfying about sitting down at the table and not only understanding the journey of the meal in front of you, but also knowing you’ve played an active role in it reaching your plate. You could say it’s instinctive. As humans, we’ve been foraging for food from the very beginning, as hunter-gatherer societies before transitioning to farming communities. In the Margaret River Region, there’s a growing number of locals who are passionate about producing food sustainably, opening farm gates to give visitors a behind-the-scenes taste.

In terms of farm foraging experiences, here’s our pick of the bunch.

Header image: Forage Safaris

Glenarty Road
There's a growing number of locals who are passionate about producing food sustainably. Photo: Russell Ord / Glenarty Road

Forage Safaris

Jan Stewart is what you might call an expert farm forager. Growing up on a beef, cotton and maize farm in Zimbabwe, Jan’s love of the land was nurtured from a young age before she turned her attention to tourism, working in the African safari industry before making her way to Australia.

Continuing to work as an international travel agent in the South West, it wasn’t until the end of 2020 she combined two of her greatest loves.

“Covid gave me the chance to develop what I saw as a gap in the local market and test out the foraging tours,” Jan says. “During that time, people were excited to get out, visit local farms, and learn how to reconnect to the land.”

Specialising in small, all-inclusive experiences within her network of over 200 producers in the region, Jan tailors her tours to her guests’ special interests and needs.

“I love taking the back roads to some of the smaller cellar doors and producers,” Jan says. “I think it’s important for people to see where their food comes from and understand the value of it.”

While full and half-day tours might have you participating in truffle farm walks, listening to abalone diving talks, or tasting and picking your way through orchards and groves – such as those at Chestnut Brae or Whirlwind Olives – Forage Safaris’ Sunset Wine Experience will see you strolling through vineyards with a winemaker, and enjoying a gourmet picnic at a boutique cellar door.

Wine and grazing board with Forage Safaris.
Experience the back road and some of the smaller cellar doors and producers with Forage Safaris. Photo: Forage Safaris

Burnside Organic Farm

Lara and Jamie McCall’s sustainable living dream began 25 years ago when they moved to Margaret River to start a family and set up Burnside Organic Farm. Today their adult sons are also involved in the mixed business which includes an organic farm, winery and luxury farm stay accommodation.

“Being self-sufficient and living sustainably has always been important to us,” Lara says. “Jamie’s family had a little farm near Perth and I grew up with a Polish mother who was always growing and fermenting things, so we wanted our children to experience that too.”

The McCalls invite others to share in that lifestyle also, with the property containing two luxury style bungalows for guests to stay and experience everything the certified biodynamic farm and vineyard have to offer, including guided walks through the farm’s market gardens and avocado orchard, organic wine tastings, animal viewings, and foraging for fruit, herbs and vegetables for use in the evening meal.

“Kids especially love the garden. We have produce like Mexican cucumbers, apples and cherry guavas for them to fill their buckets with or eat on the spot,” Lara says.

But of course, it’s not just children that get a buzz out of foraging. Lara says adults who’ve lost their connection with food and seasonality often find the inspiration and knowledge they need while staying with them.

“People want to learn more so they can grow their own and we can provide that knowledge, with everything from starting a worm farm to the responsible recycling of waste,” she says. “We get them thinking about the bigger picture too – about food miles and how buying local, seasonal food, and supporting ethical farming practices ensures a more sustainable future.”

Burnside Organic Winery
Learn about food miles and how to support ethical farming practices at Burnside Organic Farm. Photo: Supplied

Fair Harvest

Just 4km from Margaret River’s town centre, Fair Harvest is not only an award-winning permaculture farm, but also an eco-campground, events space, café and outdoor classroom. But most importantly, for Jodie Lane and partner Dorothee Perez, Fair Harvest is a labour of love.

Purchased by Jodie’s parents back in 1987, the farm sits on 160-hectares of ex-dairy country that was once karri and jarrah forest. Rehabilitating the land ever since, the tireless efforts of Jodie, her family, and community of like-minded environmental activists, has resulted in its success.

“Permaculture is not only about caring for the earth, it’s about caring for ourselves and each other,” says Jodie. “Over the years, we’ve endeavoured to create a living experience where guests can both observe and be part of the systems we’ve put in place.”

Whether that’s participating in a course or retreat, helping at harvest, joining a cooking class, or camping at Fair Harvest’s campsite, Jodie says there’s plenty for visitors to do.

“People are welcome to use our composting systems, eat our home-grown produce, walk in the forest, or just relax and enjoy the farm,” she says.

Fair Harvest Permaculture Free Range Produce
Join a cooking class, retreat, camp or help at harvest at Fair Harvest. Photo: Supplied

Glenarty Road

This fifth-generation farm in Karridale, run by Ben McDonald and wife, Sasha, not only boasts what’s considered to be one of the country’s best paddock-to-plate restaurants – it also provides some of the finest farm foraging experiences in the Margaret River Region.

Glenarty Road’s Forage on the Farm and Vino in the Vines invites you to journey through the vineyard, and macadamia, hops and vegetable gardens of the regenerative farm – foraging for food and spotting roaming sheep and pigs as you go. As well as tasting up to 10 wines at the source, a four-course feast comprising of seasonal produce, house-made charcuterie, farm snacks, and fresh bread is provided as you learn the farm’s history.

Alternatively, dig around Glenarty Road’s kitchen garden with the Where Good Things Grow experience, to discover how to start your own garden, before being guided through the cellar door’s small-batch wines, accompanied by a selection of house-made cheeses and food foraged fresh from the farm.

Glenarty Road Cellar Door Food and Wine
Enjoy seasonal produce and wine tasting at Glenarty Road after your farm foraging. Photo: Glenarty Road

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