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Bringing a bit of Europe to Australia

The story of Lavendula Swiss Italian Farm.

Top tips

  • Know your core demographic
  • Have a good website
  • Invest in internet marketing
  • Know your competitive advantage

The story

Once a city girl who yearned to bring up her boys in the country, Carol White saw an auction sign 20 years ago that would change her life. Shepdale was a 100-acre property built around three beautiful but derelict 1860s Italian-built golden stone buildings. Here, thought Carol, she could live in rural Australia but it would feel like Europe! The property bought, Carol painstakingly renovated Shepdale’s buildings, planted a kitchen garden and considered her options.

'I needed income and flexibility to look after my sons, so I set about researching production options,' explains Carol. 'I loved the Swiss-Italian heritage and culture, and had seen lavender grown commercially in France. My fate was sealed.'
The outcome is Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm, named after the botanic name for lavender, which now grows lavender, olives and grapes, all harvested and processed for use on the property.

As well as beautiful, productive gardens, a petanque piste, farm animals, a daytime and al fresco café under the ash trees, and a shop inside a renovated barn, Lavandula's open gardens host a series of festivals throughout the year, celebrating the changing seasons and produce.

'I was a single woman in a man’s farming world when I started this business,' says Carol. 'But boutique farming offers wonderful opportunities to be individual, build a lifestyle and become an entity on your own. I value-add on-site and am delighted with the results.'

The advice

One key area of business promotion is internet marketing. It is vital to have a good website (we're in the process of updating ours in the next few months). One important consideration is knowing your core demographic and finding ways to market outside this. For instance, because our core demographic is typically in the 40+ age group, we use sites like Facebook to successfully target a younger demographic.
Having said all that, we never lose sight of the main attractions of the farm, which are the gardens and the historic buildings. All other attractions like the cafe and retail shop are added bonuses, but vital income streams.

Attend a marketing event

The result

Carol’s vision of creating a bit of Europe in country Australia has seen her transform a derelict property into a stunning lavender farm featuring country farmhouse accommodation, an onsite café and shop selling Lavendula’s product range. The farm also holds several festivals throughout the year as well as weddings and other functions.

Lavendula invests in internet marketing to increase its growth but never loses sight of its main attraction and competitive advantage: the beautiful gardens and historic buildings.