Living the dream in an idilic renovated church in beautiful Billinudgel, a town in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, meet the family behind our favourite Church Farm General Store soaps - Andrew, Amanda and their little boys Banjo and Percy. The couple found their church dream house driving past one day with Amanda's family and thought how amazing it would be to live in an old Church. With their first bub on the way the couple made an offer and the church was theirs.
Fast forward a few years, two kids, a couple of renovations, a new deck, and one hell of a garden the family now live a picture perfect life on their Church Farm where they grow all the magic ingredients that go into their magic soaps, creams and condiments. We are so inspired by their wholesome approach to life and their love for the environment. They eat what they grow, and whatever they can't produce themselves, they buy from their local farmers. They are big on recycling and living a waste free life. We caught up with Amanda to get a glimpse into what life is like at their Church Farm.
How did you guys meet?
We met at a Henry Diltz exhibition in Sydney. Henry took all those amazing photos of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and the likes.
What was life like before the Church Farm?
Probably a little more random. When we first moved to the Northern Rivers Andrew had about 4 different half-day jobs and was playing music a lot more, while I was studying Naturopathy, hanging out with baby Banjo and doing admin work for the farmers markets. You know, just hustling.
What inspired purchasing the Church?
We were driving past with my parents and said Ha! imagine if that old church was for sale and it was! We were obsessed straight away and decided to buy it.
When and why did you start making your own products?
With the soaps we had extra herbs growing in the garden that we didn't want to go to waste, so we picked them, dried them, infused them into oil, made various infusions and then turned them into soap. We had a baby on the way too so we wanted to make soap from scratch so we knew exactly what was in it. The sauces and curry pastes were the same really. Just had extra habaneros, lemongrass, galangal etc growing in the garden so we were looking for ways to turn everything into something yummy.
Do you remember your first batch of soaps?
I do actually! I took really bad photos of them on the hipstamatic app I had on a really old iPhone. I made one with mint and comfrey, and another one with calendula, chamomile and oats.
Tell us about the process of making your products and what makes them so special?
The ingredients are what makes them so special. We use beautiful herbs, plant oils, Australian clays, essential oils and so much Australian extra virgin olive oil. The process is important too, all of our soaps are made using the cold processed method which means the oils aren't over-heated so all of their beneficial properties are intact and they cure for a minimum of four weeks which makes them extra gentle on the skin.
What other products do you have other than soaps?
We have three speciality sauces, two Thai Curry Pastes (a red and a green), a tomato passata, seasonal vegetable pickles, a ketchup and barbecue sauce. We also make a dream cream, which is a rose geranium infused moisturiser. We sell most of these at the local farmers markets but some are also available online.
What does being healthy mean to you?
Being happy. A healthy mind works magic, and also including lots of beautiful local food, avoiding all of the things that are trying to harm us and lots of ocean swims!
Amanda what is your skin care routine like?
So basic! We literally just use our soap everywhere (the rose or calendula is my favourite for face) and then use our dream cream as moisturiser. Every now and then i'll do a scrub or use some clay for a face mask but thats about it.
What is your favourite thing about living in Billinudgel?
The view over the cow paddock. Seeing green empty space makes me happy. Andrew loves the Billi's Indian Restaurant down the road.
How do you know when you’re out of balance?
Andrew will normally tell me! He's good like that.
How do you get yourself back on track?
Meditate, go surfing with my friends, hide in the garden and have a cup of tea.
When you guys aren’t making Church Farm goods where will people find you?
Andrew would be flying around playing guitar in one of his bands and I'd be finishing off the never-ending Naturopathy degree on the Gold Coast. Then we'd both be hanging with our little boys too of course.
Any hidden talents?
I can count how many letters are in a sentence really quickly. I've been doing it since I was a kid. Really weird. Andrew is very musical, but also really great at mopping wooden floors.
Do you have any vices?
Loco love chocolate and Tiramisu at pizza night.
What's your favourite recipe?
Anything Roberto and Michelle from the Nomadic Kitchen make! Also, our favourite cookbooks at the moment are by Francis Mallmann, the Argentinian Chef who loves to cook over fire.
Quote or motto you live by?
She'll be right, mate (Andrew)
Favourite people to follow on Instagram?
@danssurfvideos - just some guy in Honolulu, Hawaii that films people surfing.
I also stalk out a few church renovation accounts.
Andrew's feed is probably filled with cricket and fishing.
Golden Grind is our go-to brand for anything turmeric and we have been hooked since day dot of discovering their latte blend! These guys are the masters and are pretty epic human beings too. The team have expanded their range to include turmeric chocolate, turmeric tea, a turmeric hemp protein smoothie blend and even skincare, and now have a little bub on the way too! We chat to Renwick to learn more about the dynamic family team and how they keep the golden wheels turning.
Let’s be kinder to mama earth today, tomorrow and everyday by making a conscious choice to help end plastic pollution. Plastic is threatening our planet's survival. It's poisoning and injuring marine life, disrupting human hormones, littering our beaches, landscapes and clogging our streams and landfills. Plan ahead and avoid using plastic in your day to day life.
As a mum and a business owner, I've come to accept that busy is just a part of life. It's just how things are these days, and it's not just me. We all have big ambitions and so much we want and have to do in the 24 hours we get every day, so we just roll up our sleeves and get ...well.. busy right? Being busy shouldn't get in the way of being healthy, so we're staring a movement, and we need your help! Are you up for the challenge?