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A sustainable recipe for success - Brookfarm's environmental legacy


Brook Family 2019 Hires

One family’s tree change and passion for healthy food is leaving a legacy for future generations

When Pam and Martin Brook relocated their young family from Victoria to a run-down dairy farm in Byron Bay’s hinterland over 30 years ago, little did they know that a homemade cereal would lead to a line of supermarket staples — and help put the coastal town on the world map.

Their original vision was to regenerate more than 12 hectares of denuded agricultural land into subtropical rainforest and establish a viable macadamia farm. However, it didn’t take long for the Brooks to see Australia’s heart-healthy nut as a viable native food crop.

With a love for good health and the great outdoors, Pam’s father (and one of Victoria’s skiing legends) Mick Hull provided the inspiration behind the first recipe.

“Our kitchen used to be filled with his jars of oats, bran, nuts, grains, seeds, dried fruits and secret ingredients,” Pam recalls. “He would then blend a new mix each week until the ideal combination was achieved and keep it in his pocket.”

After months of product development perfecting recipes in the family kitchen (mayonnaise and tartare sauce included), the first two breakfast formulas were born. Then in November 2000, Pam and Martin, with young sons Will and Eddie in tow, sold their first batch of Brookfarm handmade mueslis at the local Bangalow Markets.

Two decades later, Brookfarm’s premium products are exported to 13 countries, served on board Qantas and Emirates flights and can be found on breakfast tables from Dubai to Shanghai.

 Environment, community, real food

What drives the Brook family is a passion for land, wildlife and supporting nature in sustainable agricultural practices. Native birds, wasps and bees thrive on the farm, naturally keeping pests including mice and nut borer moths at bay. They’re also committed to creating circular ecosystems, which involves minimising landfill waste and harnessing the sun to power the bakehouse.

Brookfarm — as in the Brook’s family farm — is now a biodiverse hotspot thanks to natural farming practices and more than 35,000 subtropical rainforest species and native trees creating a valuable wildlife corridor.

It is also the location of another Brook business venture: Cape Byron Distillery and the award-winning Brookie’s range of gin, and now distillers of premium whisky. In fact, most of the 25 botanicals in Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin are sourced from the family farm, which you can see during one of their popular tours.

From carbon-neutral to climate-positive

As if all of that wasn’t enough to keep the Brook clan busy, they recently launched a new environmental initiative to produce carbon-neutral products with the principal purpose of investing in climate-positive projects.

The founders of We, the many* include Pam, Martin, Will and Eddie; and Brad Rogers and Jamie Cook, two of the co-founders of Stone & Wood.

Built on a sustainable business model, We, the many* will invest 50 per cent of profits into climate-positive solutions including regenerative agriculture, wind and solar farms, recycling technology and forest regeneration.

“While all three companies have strong environmental credentials, we wanted to create a movement where climate change is a key business driver rather than an afterthought,” Will explains. “We want to mobilise business to create a commercial solution to a global problem which, over time, can make an even bigger contribution to climate action projects as it grows.”

 Leaving a legacy

Brookfarm has steadily evolved from a boutique breakfast label into an iconic brand that is deeply embedded in the fabric of Byron Bay. It currently employs over 70 locals — many more over the years — and is actively involved in the community through partnerships with the Bunjum Aboriginal Corporation, creating edible native gardens for Indigenous families and Liberation Larder to feed the homeless and less fortunate. Pam is also the driving force behind Northern Rivers Food while Martin is vice chairman of the Big Scrub Foundation.

The next 20 years, with son Will at the helm, look to be as exciting as the last. The father-of-three is so deeply committed to sustainable and regenerative farming — and pushing the boundaries every day.

 

 Brook family milestones

1988  Brook family purchase run-down farm

2000  Founded Brookfarm

2007 Telstra Business of the Year Award

2015 Green Globe Award for Environmental Sustainability

2016  Founded Cape Byron Distillery

2020  Co-founded We, the many*

 

For more information, visit brookfarm.com.au.