First look at Tweed hinterland’s new farm cafe
First they came for the sunflowers, now they'll stay for the food. Check out the southern Gold Coast's newest paddock-to-plate eatery and its farm fresh menu.
The Cudgen farm is now home to a new cafe, giving those escaping the rat race a reason to linger a little while longer.
Farm and Co owner Michele Stephens says she and her husband Ian Kettle always had a plan to expand with a paddock-to-plate eatery, but it finally came to fruition for them in April.
"We've had the farm for 18 years now, it was an avocado farm before us," Michele says.
"I wanted to branch out into something different, so we got into tomatoes and cucumbers and capsicum and eggplant and things like that, and set up a farm stall.
"We had the idea that we should value add to what we were doing.
"We liked being there and people liked walking on the farm at the stage, and we thought, 'why don't we just build a cafe?'"
In the 10 years that followed that first seed of an idea, Farm and Co worked on bringing in more visitors by welcoming school groups and hosting community events, but it was its iconic field of sunflowers that had the people flocking for the ultimate Instagram snap.
"The sunflowers were a cover crop," Michele says. "My son put a post on Instagram and it just went off.
"I didn't realise the general public liked going to sunflower fields.
"So at that point, we realised we really needed to get this cafe going. We just launched into it - sunflowers, cafe and a farm stall."
The cafe build started mid-last year and is now open to the public, with a vegetarian menu featuring produce picked just hours earlier.
"We wanted to stay true to what we believe in, so we thought it would be a really good idea to have really nourishing food with a plant-based menu," Michele says.
"We've got all of these beautiful dishes from the garden, mixed in with locally-sourced produce.
"We've got a tomato tart with a local mozzarella and parmesan sauce over the top.
"The burritos are really delicious, with avocado, black beans, chipotle mayonnaise and pineapple. There's a really beautiful green curry with cherry tomatoes, eggplant, lychee.
"Ben Flower is a vegan chef. He's got a really nice Asian-Australian mix to what he does. John Wearne is our other chef, he spent 17 years in Spain.
"The boys have been able to create these dishes where you start with one flavour and finish with another.
"This is our best time of year, we're taking shallots, herbs and all the greens, leeks, lots of our different tomatoes and kale, and broccoli and cauliflower is just coming on."
While it's taken a decade for Farm and Co's plans to bear fruit, Michele is still looking to the future.
"The next step is to be able to engage children and adults alike, to pass on that knowledge of how to grow that pot plant or herb or vegetable in whatever space you have," she says.
"We've got to be able to teach people that. There will come a time where everybody will have to know how to grow something.
"Also, people are coming for selfies in the sunflowers, but they're coming for a far greater benefit.
"Take the moment to take your shoes off and walk in the grass, re-earth, reconnect.
"We live in the most amazing part of the country with fresh air and sunshine. Take a breath as you walk through, be the pause between the in and the out breath."
Farm and Co Cafe is open Wednesday to Sunday 8am to 3pm at 529 Cudgen Rd, Cudgen.