Ewetopia Farm at Ellenborough puts milking and cheesemaking on hold this summer

On hold: Ewetopia Farm's Ian McKittrick will take a break from milking and cheesemaking this summer season.
On hold: Ewetopia Farm's Ian McKittrick will take a break from milking and cheesemaking this summer season.

The impact of coronavirus restrictions was among the factors behind Ewetopia Farm's decision to put its milking and cheesemaking on hold.

Ian and Jill McKittrick will concentrate on the accommodation part of their business instead.

The ewes are usually milked through the summer, typically from September to March, but that won't happen this season.

The absence of larger events and major markets from the calendar due to coronavirus restrictions fed into the decision.

The McKittricks have mothballed the dairy for now, ready to resume milking when the time is right.

"When the bigger ones [markets and events] are missing, it makes it a lot of hard work from the smaller markets," Mr McKittrick said.

On the land: Ewetopia Farm's sheep are right at home on the Ellenborough property.

On the land: Ewetopia Farm's sheep are right at home on the Ellenborough property.

"With the COVID situation, it is just too hard."

He described the big events and larger markets as the "cream of the crop".

The business model is based on direct selling to customers and sharing the story.

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Ewetopia Farm supported the Comboyne Show in March before the coronavirus restrictions hit and was among the producers to embrace the new online shop and delivery service, Port Macquarie Food Hub.

The McKittricks will use the time to take stock, expand the tourism component of their business and spend more time with their children.

Construction has started on a second farmstay cottage.

Mr McKittrick expects to resume milking and cheesemaking in about September 2021.

Expansion: The second farmstay cottage at Ewetopia Farm is a work in progress.

Expansion: The second farmstay cottage at Ewetopia Farm is a work in progress.

"We are quite happy with the decision we have made," he said.

"Fortunately the tourism-side of things is doing pretty well."

Growing both sides of the business was always part of the long-term plan.

The hiatus from milking and cheesemaking will deliver time to build a second farmstay cottage on the Ellenborough property west of Wauchope.

The existing self-contained cottage attracts visitors from areas including Sydney and Newcastle as well as people on a weekend escape from Port Macquarie.

"Most of the people who come to stay are looking for some sort of farm experience," Mr McKittrick said.

Escape to the farm: Jill and Ian McKittrick's farmstay cottage is fully booked for the approaching school holidays.

Escape to the farm: Jill and Ian McKittrick's farmstay cottage is fully booked for the approaching school holidays.

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