Penny and Graeme Hart have carved a slice of paradise on their expansive Shoreham abode.
Originally used as pastures for cattle, in the year 2000 the pair decided to plant an olive grove – of various Tuscan varieties – the outcome: mouth-watering and award-winning extra virgin olive oil.
What’s now known as ‘Hart’s Farm’ grew organically; their apple cider (inspired by their daughter’s visits to the UK) was first produced in 2014, with delicious results.
“The Dry Cider won best in its class at the 2019 Cider Awards, we’ve won a few silver and bronze at the Red Hill Show… That kind of reinforces to us that we’re doing something to be proud of.”
The Hart family have a curated selection of cider with seven unique flavours, from their Original Dry to the ‘Spiced’ range (served warm – like a cosy alcoholic apple crumble on a cold winter’s day). The Cidre Noir in particular piqued our interest: a curious blend of Pinot Noir grapes and dry cider.
“It’s all fermented on-site, with bottle conditioning, so nothing goes away to be artificially carbonated,” Penny says. There are no hidden nasties; and the flavour of the cider varies slightly each year due to the differing apple-growing seasons.
Aside from the Farm Gate Shop – where the couple host tastings on weekends – Hart’s Farm also provides accommodation for those after the perfect getaway. Nestled among tall eucalypts and overlooking a vista of olive groves, Penny says the farm-stays were a way of exploring her “love for food and hospitality”.
Guests can choose to stay in ‘The Retreat’ – a sophisticated two-person space kitted with a fully equipped kitchen and wood-burning fireplace – or ‘The Studio’, featuring a generous bath for a bit of R&R time.
Hart’s Farm isn’t just good for the guests that visit, Penny and Graeme implement sustainable practices that aim to make a positive impact on their environment. “We collect all our water from roof tanks, and use energy from solar panels.”
Running the farm is a 7-day-a-week gig: “Some days I think I’d just like to sit down with a book. It doesn’t ever end up happening,” she adds with a smile. But the couple are determined to provide quality local products, as well as curated spaces for others to unwind.
“We’ve had guests that have come back three or four times,” Penny says. “I really like that feeling.”
In one of the rooms, Penny finds a handwritten note that was left on the blackboard. A remnant from a couple that recently stayed in ‘The Retreat’, the note reads: “Look up a definition of perfect in the dictionary, and you will find a picture of Hart’s Farm”.
To book your relaxing (and romantic) getaway, you can head to the Hart’s Farm website. The farm-gate is also open 11am to 4pm on the weekends so you can stock up on local cider and olive oil.