First sod turned on cafe, cooking school for Wellington Point farm

SOD TURNING: Councillor Wendy Boglary and farm manager Adrian Lynch break ground on the site of the new facility.

SOD TURNING: Councillor Wendy Boglary and farm manager Adrian Lynch break ground on the site of the new facility.

AFTER more than 20 years in the works, the first sod has been turned on a food market, cafe and cooking school at the Wellington Point farm.

The new agri-tourism facility - expected to open in time for the peak of strawberry season in mid-2020 - will be located on almost a hectare of the farm and surrounded by a kitchen garden.

It will include a market hall, set to stock fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy and bakery products and flowers, as well as a cafe and cooking school, which will use fresh farm produce.

The plan also includes parking for about 70 cars.

A spokesman for farm owner Sumvista said the project had been in the works since 1998.

"The development will bring to fruition a concept conceived...as a means to sustain the farm in the face of encroaching urban development and the consequential very rapid decline of the traditional fruit and vegetable growing industry in the Redlands," he said.

"For almost 20 years the farm shed stall has to some degree been a pilot for the concept.

"The community's support for the stall has been appreciated by Sumvista and has provided encouragement to proceed with the development."

An initial development application in 2002 stated the facility would capture the farming heritage of the region.

"The architectural design, decoration and fitting out together with the landscaping of the site will attempt...to reflect the relaxed semi-rural ambience that is a feature of the local area," the application said.

Division one councillor Wendy Boglary said she had advocated for the project since she was elected in 2008 and was excited to see it come to fruition.

"It's keeping the red soil and that farming heritage alive," she said.

"It's going to be fantastic to bring people regionally to the area for tourism and economic development, and more jobs will be created as well."

The Sumvista spokesman said the original goal - to educate residents on fresh food production and preparation and foster their passion for tasty and healthy food - had not changed in two decades.

"There have been many trials and tribulations to overcome along what has turned out to be a very long journey to implement what seemed to be a bright idea at the time," he said.

"Despite the elapsed time and some refinements of the concept along the way, the underlying vision remains unchanged."