Since 1837 the Wrights have farmed this land and continue to produce some of the most delicious harvests. A man of many talents, John Wright is our next CommuniFoodie feature and he is as sweet as his famous honey...
Tucked right beside the Historic Morpeth Bridge is another piece of history in the present. 5th Generation farmer John Wright is a household name in the local town and hunter region, known for his incredible ‘Wrights Honey’ and seasonal harvests. If you’re after some good quality, locally grown goods? Add John Wright’s Farm to your next food excursion.
The Wright Farm spreading over 60 acres has been in the family since 1837. If you’re concerned with getting ageing, come spend some time with John. Dressed in his blue jeans, striped shirt, boots, belt and his hat and smile that are always on, the 77 year old really does prove that age is just a number as his days are full of farm work and he shows no sign of slowing down.
All his life, John has worked the farm, previously working with horses as a trainer. The Wrights Road hosts John and his Wifes' home with John’s kids owning the houses further down the road. The beautiful produce paddocks, the Beehive lane, Lucerne fields and The Broom Room, this place is country cottage paradise, that produces amazing locally grown goods.
Down the entrance way you’ll find yourself at the farm stall, inside a selection of the farms harvest and honey is available for purchase. The farm has been growing beetroot, corn, gramma, pumpkin, watermelon and spinach and these regularly feature on their drive-in stall menu.
“I’ve been growing beetroot for 70 years, people love it. It’s one of the healthiest vegetables you can get. This season, I pulled a 3kg beetroot! My Father use to call it ‘The Garden of Eden,’ ”
Johns’ corn and beetroot has even been snapped up by the 5 star restaurant MUSE in the Hunter Valley.
“I did go to Muse. I’d never been to a 5 star restaurant before and when I went they knew who I was. They showed me my photo in a magazine they kept there and brought a whole bunch of complimentary dishes out, I think we had 8 all together! It was really nice...”
Bee’s and their sustainability are a topic of conversation around the world and John’s love for his Bee’s shows. People in the local area have raved about his honey for years and it lives up to the rumour, tasting perfectly sweet.
He is a man of many talents and when invited in the ‘Broom Room’ John’s passions were all on display. Inside, the antique machinery with the turning cogs and wheels, rows of carriages of when he trained horses, the ‘old school’ dairy milk separator, the brass bells and harnesses and wall full of stories, photos and achievements.
One of his most prized features is his ‘Millet Broom’ production line, another talent and passion of the talented farmer, all the brooms featuring Millet harvested on the farm, creating them using the same tools and manual machinery since 1837..
“When it’s ready to harvest, you walk between the two rows of millet and criss-cross them and make a table, all manually done, you let them dry for a few days. You then scratch the seed off, cut them bring them in and I hang them in the Broom Room and then bundle them into the sizes.”
John’s process of creating the broom seems simple, yet, there is much patience and attention to detail involved. The perfectly positioned nail, the tightly wound metal bracing and the exact measure of dampened millet for breakage measures, it’s not just a broom, it’s an art form.
“These were how Brooms were made back in the day. A baker loves a millet head broom because it’s the only broom that will sweep flour.”
As he built up the ‘shoulders’ of the broom and worked with the Millet brush head I couldn’t help but to find it resembled my hair when I first get up in the morning.
Watching this legendary farmer work, I watched as his hands help firm to his creation. No tools, no electronic machinery, just a combination of antique cog turned machinery, mallets and some very sharp knives. Slow and patient, he formed the crown of the broom- where most would put a piece of tin and write their names, John’s feature is a little different, using his beautiful calligraphy like handwriting to sign the Broom handle.
“There’s probably 2 and a half hours work in every broom…”
As the Broom was complete and he placed it through the guillotine to even out the Millet, it was a reminder of how things were once done, as the clock ticked loudly and the Rooster crowed, there was so much silence, space and just time for observation.
John and his Wife are active community members, at the farm stall you’ll find a range of plants and succulents and a range of secondhand books with all profits being donated to Camp Quality Australia. An active member of Rotary and a community fellowship, John has his finger on the pulse and is a book of knowledge and local history. The farm has seen many floods, changes in the environment and community and it has learnt to adapt to it all. Staying true to ‘how it use to be’ John continues to do what he does best.
So, next time you are in the hunter area and you are looking for some famous locally grown vegetables, some sweet honey or history, drop into John Wrights Farm and meet the man himself. He is as kind as his honey is sweet and it’s such a honour to add him to the CommuniFoodie community.
Where: Just under the bridge in Morpeth on Wrights Road. What they grow: Beetroot, Spinach, Pumpkin, Gramma, Corn, Watermelon and Honey ($8 per jar with 50c off with returning jars). Extras: Millet Brooms, Books, Plants and other farm like features.
How they grow: No fertilsers, harvest as needed
The Quick Communifood 5
Average Working Day?
Sunrise to Sunset, though that’s changing as I am getting a little older.
Favourite Thing to Grow?
Beetroot, I just love it.
Favourite thing to do on the farm?
I do love my broom making. I bought over 500 broom handles, so I has one to last me every day until I’m 105.
Your favourite item on your farm?
Any advice for people growing and learning about farming out there?
Good soil and just keep trying.