OUR STORIES: Will Brook, Brookfarm – Sustainable Business Practises

Brookfarm’s story began in 1988 with a Melbourne family’s holiday out into the Byron hinterland and a love for land. Upon exploring the region, Pam and Martin Brook decided to purchase a run-down old dairy farm, overflowing with head-high weeds and largely deprived of trees.
With the aid of several farming experts, the Brooks began regenerating the lush, subtropical rainforest and eucalypt trees, in addition to planting the seeds of what would eventually become an icon in the Byron Shire: their macadamia farm.
Over the next decade, the Brook family traveled up to Byron every few months to work on the farm and plant rainforest. It wasn’t until 1998 that they moved to Byron Bay permanently. Wishing to use the macadamias properly instead of simply shipping them off to be processed and sold as a low quality product, the Brooks decided to combine their long background in muesli craftsmanship with their abundance of macadamia nuts to create a truly nutritious, rich, and delicious product.
“My grandad used to make his own muesli, dad used to make his own muesli, mum used to make her own muesli… that was one of the things we really missed when we moved out of Melbourne,” said Will Brook, current operations manager of Brookfarm and son of Pam and Martin. “We decided to make the best muesli ever been made by using macadamia nuts- something people can use in their everyday diets.”
But macadamia muesli isn’t the only thing Brookfarm is known for: it is a business that is kept up remarkably by sustainable practices. The rainforest regeneration project on the farm has resulted in natural pollination from bees, as well as providing homes to many natural predators such as owls and snakes, who naturally manage pests. On top of the Brookfarm bakehouse lie 288 solar panels split evenly facing either east or west for maximum sun absorption. These solar panels provide enough energy to run the bakehouse during the daytime.
Brookfarm also gives great attention to waste management; soft plastics, paper and cardboard are separated into bins and then baled up to be recycled, which is notably more efficient for the waste contractors. Most food waste that is no good for human consumption is transferred to Brooklet Springs Farm, to be fed to pigs. Any products that have been mixed or packaged incorrectly, but are still in perfectly good quality, are sent off to charitable programs such as Liberation Larder and Foodbank to be donated to people who really need nourishment.
Brookfarm is currently working closely with its packaging supplier to come up with a solution to completely eliminate non-recyclable plastic waste in its commercial operations. “The challenge for us as a food manufacturer is being able to get packaging that is food safe; that can retain the quality of the product and is either recyclable or compostable,” said Will.
“If it is compostable – that’s not industrial compostable, it’s home compostable – so it actually breaks down and doesn’t just turn into bits of plastic in the ground.” In addition, strategies to further reduce energy waste around Brookfarm are being conceived. Solar panel monitoring is particularly a key consideration to ensure the solar is being used to maximum efficiency.
According to Will, the next significant jump will be to consolidate the five working sites throughout the Byron Shire into one, which will optimise solar power use. “We’d want to do this within a food hub with other businesses, so there is potential for us to share power in between sites,” said Will. “We’re not the biggest macadamia farm, we’re not the biggest food manufacturer – but we want to be the ideal, most sustainable way to grow macadamias and produce food.”