April 11, 2017

Frans and Ami Hillege came to the Otways via a life in the corporate world six years ago. They have built a lifestyle where they have learned to be more self-sufficient and where they live as sustainably as possible.

“Growing and sourcing organic produce is important to us. We follow organic food growing practises on our farm and do not use any chemicals on our produce.” A selection of berries, stone fruit, and vegetables as well as a crop of garlic is grown each season.

They keep chooks, which range freely and enjoy the run of their farmyard, sometimes escaping into the vegetable gardens!​ There is a small herd of beef cattle too. Keeping their food miles low is a key consideration when it comes to they couple’s food consumption. They love the generous barter system that operates between neighbours and the broader community.

Frans is a creative builder and fixer of all things. In fact, he renovated the guest cabin from its original state as an old loggers hut. The hut was originally located a few hundred meters away and was dragged on logs and barrels by tractor to its current location about 30 years ago. Frans’ role as a Quality and Risk Manager stands him in good stead. He’s a list man and keeps the farm running smoothly. When he has some free time, you’ll find him creating beautiful functional furniture using recycled timbers. He also crafts hand made knives. With his keen love of photography, he’ll often be seen on the farm with his camera in hand. Since moving to the farm he has become an enthusiastic beekeeper and has gradually expanded his bee enterprise.

Ami is the chief cook and bottle washer. She plans the planting, looks after the harvesting and seed saving of the kitchen garden. Always a lover of cooking and using local ingredients, she creates delicious award winning preserves as well as a range of garlic and herb salts using the organically grown produce grown on the farm. Her ‘Black Garlic Salt’ is just one of the farm’s success stories. You will find Otway Fields’ products at the Forrest General Store as well as a number of retail outlets around the Otways.

When Ami is not in the garden or kitchen, you’ll find her creating something crafty. She’s a keen knitter and quilter, dabbles in mosaics, random vine weaving and has recently revisited her love of pottery by playing with clay again. A regular contributor to the Birregurra Mail and Otway Life Magazine, you can read about life in the Otways. You can also catch up on the farm happenings on her blog at the website: www.otwayfields.com

Frans and Ami are always happy to share their journey on how they transitioned from city life to that of living in the country. Ami is an active member of the Birregurra CWA and secretary of the Otway Harvest Trail.