On our recent trip to Byron Bay we stopped in at Summerland House Farm in nearby Alstonville. I had seen it on a travel show a while back and kept it in the back of my mind for a future visit. Summerland House Farm held particular interest for me because it is owned by Aruma (formerly the House with No Steps) and provides training and employment for 90 people living with a disability. I was keen to see this wonderful social enterprise for myself.
SUMMERLAND HOUSE FARM
When I mentioned it to our relatives who live in the region, they only had positive things to say about the restaurant so we popped in for lunch. We had delicious meals and it was great to see so many people with disabilities working in the café.
Visitors can sit, as we did, in the restaurant or grab some takeaway and eat at picnic tables in the extensive grounds. A small entrance fee, $5 per child and $3 per adult gives visitors access to the playground, small water park and farm yard.
The playground includes a wheelchair accessible carousel and basket swing.
AJ & I took our little cousins on the tractor tour of the farm. The kids just enjoyed being on a tractor ride but I found the commentary interesting. I liked hearing about the history of Summerland House and the employment opportunities it offers. We also got a peek into the packing sheds for the avocados and macadamias. The avocado and macadamia plantations on the property are extensive.
The Watts Cottage Museum was created to recognise the work of House with No Steps and it’s founder Lionel Watts. It provides a reminder of the battle Lionel Watts had to create equal opportunities for people living with a disability. Together with wife Dorothy, his ultimate goal was to enable people with a disability to reach their potential and lead productive and satisfying lives.
In 1956, Lionel Watts contracted poliomyelitis, an illness that left him a quadriplegic. After a long recovery from the acute illness, Lionel tried to find a rehabilitation program, which would enable him to re-enter the workforce. None was available. He also found a sad lack of training and rehabilitation programmes for many other types of disabilities. At that time he, and his wife Dorothy, committed themselves to helping people with a disability to gain employment, independence and inclusion. So began ‘House With No Steps’.
Summerland House Farm, as a business enterprise of House With No Steps, provides employment and training opportunities to over 90 people with a disability. These areas of employment and business include Office Administration, Avocado and Macadamia Nut Farming, Macadamia Dehusking, Tropical Fruit Packing, Agriculture, Garden Maintenance, Restaurant and Hospitality Services, Garden Nursery, Retail and Tourism Services.
Through community support, donations, business sponsorships and bequests Summerland House Farm continues to grow the business, create more employment opportunities and ultimately empower and enhance the lives of people living with a disability.
There is disabled parking available near the gift shop and nursery.
A large stand-alone disabled toilet is available at the café and at the rear of the shop.
Concrete paths throughout make access easy.
The tractor ride is not accessible for someone needing to remain in their wheelchair.
Accessing the mini-golf would be a challenge for a wheelchair user.
Fresh produce can be purchased including tomatoes, avocado (delicious and so cheap!), macadamia nuts and more.
The café is wheelchair accessible.
For more information or to plan your visit you can check the Summerland House Farm website here.
If you are in the Byron Bay area, why not support this fantastic initiative. I’d love to hear about any other businesses like this that we can review.
This is not a sponsored post. We paid in full for our activities and meals.