One of the wonderful things about growing coffee in Australia is how well it fits with our ethos of sustainability. Yes it is a buzz word but when I sat down to think about our farm practices I realised we have been walking the talk and providing a sustainable tourism experience.
Coffee in Australia is not subject to disease or pests so straight away we are able to eliminate pesticides and other chemicals that are often used for eradication. When we first moved to Carool we transitioned away from any plants that needed pesticides. It’s great to breathe in the clean air and know it is fresh and healthy. We’ve always been careful about the type and amount of fertiliser we use but in the last few years we have relied on a seaweed based product that conditions the soil and has helped revitalise the trees.
When it comes time to harvest our coffee, which is now, we bring in locals who hand pick the crop, no machines and no crop wastage. The small machine we then use to remove the skin and mucilage is a way to reduce water consumption and allows us to recycle the pulp back into the coffee paddock, returning those nutrients to the soil. We’re even sending some cherry skins to a local distillery for an experimental gin (watch this space for news on that front). Once the cherry is processed the parchment (or bean with the outer layer attached) is spread in the sun to dry. Removing mechanical dryers eliminates a large power source and the gradual effect of sun drying supports the wonderful flavour development of the coffee.
The crop is also enhanced by a permaculture garden established beside the coffee by a friend who was keen to practise his horticultural beliefs. We had the land and Chris has the know-how. The crops in his garden have provided a haven for bees and the nearby beehive Marc established is seeing the benefit. The beehive is thought to increase the coffee crop through better pollination and we have certainly seen that outcome with our crop this year. In addition we’ve planted herbs and some vegetables in the garden around the Farm stay so that guests can help themselves to produce as needed.
We also have tank water and solar power for all of our needs. So overall I’m very proud of our sustainability at Zeta’s Coffee and Origin House.