WALLARA – which supports more than 500 people with an intellectual disability across 20 sites – has relaunched its Sages Cottage Farm and Cafe at Baxter with extra experiences that include a nature playground, extended hours and a liquor licence, a “biofilta” field, and an “ops shed”.
Wallara CEO Phil Hayes-Brown said the farm and cafe was one of Wallara’s most important social enterprises and was run by 100 adult clients (mostly 18-27 years old) and around 20 support and job coaches. The farm employs 10 of its young clients in hospitality, farm management and land management services.
The property already has a cafe, animals, extensive gardens, wetlands and bushwalk, with the new additions expected to improve client and visitor experiences.
The nature playground will use several large trees that have fallen down on the property in big storms over the last few months and is the first of several projects the landscape team that donated its services will work on.
The farm will extend its hours to open 8am to 4pm daily and with a liquor licence, opening up more employment roles and providing extended training in hospitality.
The new “biofilta” field grows food for the cafe and others operated by Wallara in the south east, and will eventually include a rotunda for the public to be able to sit in and admire the growing produce. Visitors will be able to wander through and be educated on the beds and their growing capacity.
The new “ops shed”, a new building for clients that provides additional bathrooms plus indoor training spaces for programs, replaces portable marquees and toilets.
The shed has a wood-working section and two large spaces for clients to be indoors in wet weather or extreme heat, and was made possible by a philanthropic family.
“Everything that Wallara does to enhance the farm is from philanthropy, small grants and some corporate donors, and the farm is often used by corporates for immersion programs to understand disability more,” Hayes-Brown said.