Country Valley Dairy in Picton needs your help

Country Valley Dairy in Picton needs your help

Country Valley in Picton is suffering through a bad drought. This dairy farm with its own dairy makes and distributes Country Valley milk, yoghurt and cream – and is the last remaining dairy farm in the Sydney basin.  The drought is forcing John to buy hay throughout winter, which will cost him $1350 per cow.  He needs help: sponsor a cow, and bring your family on a farm visit to Picton, just 2 hours south of Sydney. Read his story below and contact him via Facebook (@CountryValleyMilk) or phone 02 4677 2223 to make a donation, big or small…read on below photo.

Country Valley farmer needs your help

John Fairley is a 5th generation dairy farmer in Picton.  The farm was established nearly 150 years ago and is now one of the last remaining dairies in the Sydney basin.  “With the urban sprawl getting ever closer, the harder it becomes to keep places like Picton rural. However, farming is more than a job, it is a way of life and it effects the lives of more than just the families who farm. To us it is not just about dollars and cents but about our heritage and the way we want to see our valley stay as farm land”, says John.

After deregulation of the milk industry in 2000, farmers like John were paid 26c per litre by the milk processors.  Which much of NSW in drought, John decided to become ‘Master of his own Fate’: he built his own dairy and started selling milk and yoghurt under the Country Valley brand into the Sydney and Canberra markets. It didn’t take long before he started buying milk from nearby farmers, paying them 20% more than what they got from the processors.

Country Valley went on to win prizes at the Royal Easter Show, and Pepe Saya uses Country Valley cream and milk to make his premium cultured butter.

For a few years, Harvest Hub sold Country Valley products.  Our members loved the creamy taste of the fresh milk and the thick yoghurt (without gum) – until the NSW Food Authority tightened the compliance requirements for storing and transporting dairy products which made it prohibitively expensive for small distributors like us.

However, times are lean on the farm right now.  Picton, and the wider Wollondilly shire, are in drought. Says John: “The time has come to swallow my pride and ask for help. The realisation that we will be fully feeding cows, all winter, has arrived. Even if it rains next week and we get crops in, it will get cold and we will still have no feed. My 83-yr. old Dad said he has never seen it worse than this.

“One of our options we put on the table to get through the drought was to shut the dairy down. I just can’t do it.

“We have developed the herd over time, milking daughter after daughter. We all grew up helping our Dad’s and Grandfathers on weekends and school holidays. The dairy is a part of who we are. ‘It takes a tribe to raise a child’ resonates with me.

“I want my grandkids to help my son and maybe my daughter in the future.

“I am asking our supporters of Country Valley to adopt a cow or a calf, to help my family get through to Spring. Any amount, with enough people, will help. You will receive a photo of your cow which you can name if you like. Then we are offering a visit to the farm on a roster basis over time. You can introduce yourself, to the cow that is, and me as well of course. You can milk a cow which might not necessarily be yours, depending on the timing. We finish the day by helping to feed the calves and choose a sample bag to take home.

“I have estimated that it will cost $1350 per cow to feed her until the end of September. And I have 130 cows to feed! This is by no means a minimum amount for adoption. I’m just trying to let you know the scale of my problem.

“Anyone kind enough to help out please email me at with your details and we can register you in the Cow Diary. Or call 02 4677 2223 and ask for Sally or Tom in business hours. Any help will be greatly appreciated”.

Broad Beans

Broad Beans

Broad beans recipes

Broad beans which you’ll find in some recipes known as Fava Beans. This week grown by Kazzie in Picton. They are young, early in season, so should not need peeling the bean inside the pod. Map showing picton bottom left.


Note: This week they are young you can eat the POD & Beans. These are soooo good for you and just 1 cup of beans with pods provide a quarter of your daily protein needs.

A method to get the beans out of the pods. In a pan of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, drain, put cold water over them, drain, then take pods and slit them on side seam. Run your thumb along the inside pushing the beans out.

Store them

Eat them as soon as is possible. If need to store put into a paperbag and into fridge in a dry spot no more than 4 days. Keep them away from heavy breathers in the fridge producing high ethylene ie  broccoli, spinach, corn and even artichokes if you have some of these left.

Freeze them

Take beans out of pods. Blanch by plunging the beans into boiling water 1 minute then into a colander with cold water running over them. Dry. On a small tray that fits into freezer layout Baking paper. Lay out beans and freeze. Then when frozen transfer into a snap lock bag, push air out and freeze. This way they don’t stick to each other.

  • Asparagus, Broad bean and spaghetti
  • Chicken & Broad Bean Penne

Asparagus, Broad bean and spaghetti

Asparagus, Broad bean and spaghetti
Recipe type: Pasta
Serves: 4
  • 6 Fresh asparagus,
  • Spaghetti, packet
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • Handful broad beans, prepared and cooked
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 2 tsp lemon thyme, chopped
  1. Preparation of Broad Beans:
  2. Note: This week they are young you can eat the POD & Beans.
  3. The fresh beans this week are hidden inside large green pods. These are young so no need to peel beans. First open the pods and extract the beans. (Usually you need to peel them). Blanch them for a couple of minutes in water or stock.
  4. Prepare the asparagus by only chopping a little of the end off and cut into 4cm lengths. Prepare by steaming until tender (not to much).
  5. Cook spaghetti, drain.
  6. Then in a fry pan heat oil, sweat garlic and onion together adding in zucchini then asparagus. Add some vegetable stock, add broad beans (cooked) and simmer for 3 minutes. Add in cooked spaghetti and combine ingredients. Turn off heat and add lemon and thyme. Serve.

Chicken & Broad Bean Penne
Chicken & Broad Bean Penne
Recipe type: Pasta
Serves: 4
  • 1-2 chicken breasts, grilled and shredded
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 500g penne (Harvest Hub)
  • Handful broad beans
  • 3 tbs Tomato passata
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 6 tbs parmesan, finely grated
  • Dill, crushed and sprinkled
  1. Coat chicken in oil, season then grill for 6 minutes each side. Then shred.
  2. In a saucepan boil the pasta adding in the pre-cooked beans for the final 2 mins, then drain, reserving 150ml of the cooking water.
  3. The fresh beans this week are hidden inside large green pods. These are young so no need to peel beans. First open the pods and extract the beans. (Usually you need to peel them).
  4. Shred the cooked chicken and put back into the frypan with the tomato passata, lemon juice, 3 tbs Parmesan and the reserved cooking water. Heat gently, season to taste. Turn off heat and stir in penne. Serve sprinkled with the remaining crushed Dill and serve.