We also use their pasture-raised eggs and famed raw honey across the menu. When it comes to choosing our ingredients, we always go for local, fresh and tasty – three things we love about Little Hill Farm and their philosophy. We spoke with Simon Carroll and Kelly Eaton, to learn more about their passion for sustainable practice, exceptional animal welfare standards and making the decision to start a farming business.
Simon and Kelly, tell us about Little Hill Farm – where did it all begin?
Kelly: Our farm business started from a passion for sustainability and the capacity to grow our own food at home. Prior to establishing Little Hill, our suburban block was filled with veggie gardens, aquaponics fish farms, pasture-raised chickens and even pigs. We quickly ran out of space and with the arrival of our first-born Mia, we thought it was the perfect time to purchase some acres.
Simon: There’s been plenty of lessons learnt along the way and we’re always striving to improve our processes, but what’s really important to us is ensuring we farm in a regenerative way and maintain exceptional animal welfare standards for our chooks and animals.
Have you always been farmers?
Kelly: No, actually. Simon worked in local government for two decades, whilst I was an apprenticeship consultant – we are first-generation farmers.
Can you tell us a bit more about your sustainable practices at Little Hill Farm?
Simon: One of the first tasks on the farm was to plant trees and plant lots of them. As well as improving the general habitat of the farm, the trees provide plenty of other benefits – they act as windbreaks and provide shade for our animals. They even supplement fodder for our chickens, who absolutely love seeds.
Kelly: Our farm is completely off-grid too. We have no mains connections at all, so our whole operation runs on the sun. This can get tricky at times, but we’ve learnt to manage it. Along with this, we ensure that all animals are rotated regularly around the property to enrich the soil and improve the pasture. We have taken soil samples off our land and there’s been a considerable improvement in soil carbon levels.
Simon: We are regenerative farmers, striving to do our best for the land, the plants, and the animals it supports.
What makes Little Hill Farm unique?
Kelly: Little Hill is a first-generation farm, we are a young family that deeply appreciates the land we call home. This is our blank canvas that we’ve been able to slowly create, ensuring that our farming methods are giving back to the land rather than depleting it.
Simon: We’ve invested everything in designing and building a unique farming system that meets the highest possible animal welfare standard, allowing our animals to express their natural behaviours in a clean and thriving ecosystem – just as nature intended.
Can you tell us what’s currently in season?
Kelly: At our farm? Definitely, chicken and eggs. Given how chilly it’s been recently, chicken stocks and soups are definitely a great winter warmer.
Simon: We’re very busy at the moment and don’t have as much time to tend to the veggies. But that’s all part of the future plan.
Finally, can you share with us one of your favourite recipes?
Kelly: Since becoming a chicken farmer, I’ve noticed that it is common for people to be hesitant, unsure, or even intimidated to roast a whole chicken. A roast chicken is an easy meal that has endless flexibility with flavours. It is a meal that provides you with plentiful leftovers.
Simon: You can turn a simple roast chicken into lunch for tomorrow’s sandwich, a pie filling, a pizza topping and not to mention the bones that can be made into a stock for a soup.
Kelly: My top tip when it comes to cooking a chook, is to go for quality over quantity. We always suggest purchasing the best chicken you can afford. Now for the recipe.
- Preheat your oven to 200, or 190 for fan-forced ovens.
- Then, pat your chicken dry, this ensures you get nice, crispy skin.
- Add some oil to the skin and place some butter under the skin.
- If you want to add some extra flavour, use mixed herbs by smashing or blending them. Then, sprinkle them on top and chuck a few inside too. Alternatively, you can add a spice rub.
- Then, place half a lemon or onion and garlic inside.
- Place in the oven (some people say to roast the chicken breast side down and then turn mid-way through cooking. You can give this a go but if you are like me and are trying to multitask with homework and dinner, this doesn’t always go to plan). So, for the simplest no-fuss way to cook your chook, pop it in and leave it be.
- Roast for 45 minutes for every kilo, plus an extra 20 minutes.
- Unsure if your chicken is ready? Pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer and let the juices run out. If they are clear, then it’s cooked, but if they still look pink, return it to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
- Then, let your chicken rest for 15 minutes while it is covered and kept warm, then carve, serve and enjoy.
Simon Carroll and Kelly Eaton are first-generation farmers. They have a deep passion for growing clean, ethical produce and a determination to raise their family connected to nature. Little Hill Farm is based in Mount Vincent, NSW.
Feature image courtesy of Millicent Ward Photographer.