Cowaramup couple explain farm gate to plate

Sue YeapThe West Australian
Tim Hall and Cree Monaghan with some of their animals.
Camera IconTim Hall and Cree Monaghan with some of their animals.

As consumers become increasingly interested in the origins of food, one Cowaramup couple are doing their best to help educate us about everything from animal welfare to eating seasonally.

Cree Monaghan and Tim Hall run One Table Farm in the Margaret River region. The 40ha property was a “blank canvas” with really good soil and a spring-fed dam but little else when they moved there from the city in 2014.

Hall, who previously worked in human resources, had to quickly learn about everything from solar power and installing water pipes to how to erect a fence.

“Initially it was a very steep learning curve, YouTube is a wonderful thing,” he says. “You can learn a lot on anything you want actually; how to fence, how to build anything.”

Monaghan worked in the region when she graduated from veterinary school, so was able to call on old friends and farmers for assistance.

“We had help from amazing, very generous, very skilful people for the first couple of years,” she says. “All the veterinary training doesn’t really teach you about agriculture and raising animals, it is a totally different thing but it all helps.”

The hard work has paid off with an astounding and diverse range of fruit and nut trees as well as a thriving vegetable patch.

They grow enough to feed their three children and to use in their classes and workshops, with extras used to feed the animals or turned into compost to fertilise their crops.

“It is trying to be initially family sustainable or as close as we can get to it with minimal external input,” Monaghan says. “We are constantly trying to minimise what we need to buy and spend, there’s less waste, all of that feels really good. It is a big shift in how we are approaching our life.”

One Table Farm also has chickens, sheep, two pigs and some steers and ahead of the move, Monaghan — who had worked as a zoo and wildlife vet — gained additional qualifications in animal welfare, ethics and law.

Cree Monaghan and Tim Hall at One Table Farm.
Camera IconCree Monaghan and Tim Hall at One Table Farm.

“We didn’t want to necessarily have people come here and say this just seems like a better way to raise animals, we really wanted to say, there is scientific evidence ... even the way you interact with animals can actually produce this much-improved existence,” Monaghan says.

“So their lives are better, the return is better, because they are having a more positive experience. I was reading something that said kindness to animals doesn’t take any more time or cost any more money and you really see, all of our animals can integrate well, there is minimal fear going on.”

The passionate cook also undertook intensive chef training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

One Table Farm offers a range of workshops including in how to make kefir or passata and —coming up on Saturday and April 27-27 — sourdough classes. Hall is known as a sourdough master, having watched his mum make it during his childhood in Canada. Then on May 11, One Table Farm introduces its new hands-on full-day One Table Farm Food Experience.

It is a seasonal paddock-to-plate experience involving a tour of the farm, selecting food for the menu and discussing production and growing systems.

The food collected will be taken to the farm’s purpose-built kitchen and eating space overlooking the orchard, where participants will collectively prepare dishes and learn new skills that will hopefully inspire them when they return home.

“It is trying to get people to think a little bit more about their food — we are not necessarily trying to hammer home concepts — but just think a little bit about the needs of animals and how we make our food choices,” Monaghan says.

“That is the other thing for us, we don’t eat a lot of meat — our philosophy is eat less meat, make the seasonal vegetable the centre of what you’re doing so that frames your meal.

“And the meat that you do eat, make it a high welfare choice.”

See onetablefarm.com.au.

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