A story of family, passion for produce and a master class in agritourism.
Experience Perth Hills recently caught up with Lucy from La Fattoria – a new food and wine venue out in the Perth Hills. La Fattoria opened its doors to the public last November and here’s the inside story on the new hot-spot in the region. Grab a cuppa, sit down and immerse yourself in this unique and passionate place.
What's the story behind La Fattoria?
La Fattoria (meaning ‘The Farm’ in Italian) is a dream we conceived back in 2010. Our family had been working the orchard for over 70 years and we wanted to find a different way to showcase not only our produce but also our Italian heritage. The idea is that people come here to experience a “conversation with Italy” – this isn’t just about going to a restaurant to eat – it’s about becoming part of our family for a day. We sell wine, cider, fresh fruit and produce, we talk to everyone that visits about the food and wine they are tasting and the stories behind it.
Who are the people behind it? My husband Eric and I own and run La Fattoria, but the whole family is a big part of it. We are the third generation to work the farm and our girls who now work with us in La Fattoria are the fourth. Originally Eric’s grandparents emigrated to Perth from Sinagra, Sicily over 70 years ago. The property was purchased by the Radice Family from the first owners who originally bought the land as part of the ‘Returned Soldiers Scheme’. The family then cultivated the land into a fruit orchard and Eric’s dad Lou has been farming the land since he was 14 years old. He’s now 79 and still working. He can often be seen driving around the property in the ‘bunky’ … a 1970 Toyota Corona with no doors on! Eric and I are both school teachers by trade. Eric is still teaching part time while we get La Fattoria up and running and I have spent the last 12 years working the orchard with Lou and Margaret, Eric’s mum. We built here as we wanted our family to have this extraordinary lifestyle. ‘La Fattoria’ was a dream that was always in the back of our minds. What's the concept behind La Fattoria? We actually came up with the ‘La Fattoria’ model after visiting Italy in 2012 and observing how agritourismos operate.It is a perfect blend of farming and food with each home welcoming you in, telling you their stories, bringing food, wine and family together in one experience. ‘Nonna’s Family Table’ – where you sit down at the table and enjoy several courses and there is no menu, was created for people to experience what we did in Italy. It’s about cooking what’s in season and it’s about eating with family and friends, sharing dishes and enjoying the time together. Children are a big part of the family and are encouraged to come and be part of the day with our Bambini menu. While the adults are sitting back, children can explore the nature garden, visit the chickens, see the fruit and vegetables being grown on the trees and play on the lawn with Rani and Jessi our farm dogs. What can people expect when they visit La Fattoria? The experience starts as soon as you book. I like to personally talk to everyone to explain the concept of our Nonna’s Family table.Your experience then really begins as soon as you arrive, walking past the olive trees and old historic homestead, through the working packing shed where you meet Eric and I in our trattoria overlooking the vines and orchard. You then get to do some wine tasting with Eric to understand the Italian grape varieties that we grow. I like to come out the kitchen to chat to you about your food and then the afternoon is yours – we don’t have multiple bookings. We want you to stay a while and let us take you on a food and wine journey where you to get to know our story and for us to get to know you. You've been open a couple of months now. What's the response been so far? We’ve been absolutely blown away by the response so far. People have really embraced the concept and more and more people are calling in or booking for lunch. The reviews we have had so far have been really positive. Our ‘pick your own platter’ has also been unexpectedly popular. It’s a great way to experience La Fattoria for the first time. We wanted to be able to cater for people who don’t book, so people can walk in and create their own platter and go and sit on the lawn. People love that they can choose exactly what they want. We’ve also had a great response from people just popping in for coffee and cake or to buy fruit and more often than not – they then go on to book for lunch once they see what it’s all about. What is Fruit Loop? Fruit Loop started a few years ago as we wanted people to be able to experience fresh fruit right from the farm gate. Initially I put out an invite to a few friends and it became a regular following of people coming up each Saturday. My friends encouraged me to put it out on Facebook, which was totally new to me at the time. In 3 days, it had gone viral and we had 60,000 people interested. I didn’t sleep for 3 days thinking we had 60,000 people coming on Saturday! Of course we didn’t get that many people, but since then it has really grown and people travel huge distances to select their fruit out of the packing shed, weigh it on our huge rusty scales and just love knowing that the fruit was literally picked minutes or hours ago. Fruit Loop has now dovetailed in really well with La Fattoria and people now see us as a complete destination for food, wine and fresh produce. What else can people purchase from you? We sell whatever fruit is fresh at the time and sometimes bring in different or interesting produce from neighbouring orchards too. Our wines are available for sale as well as our cider, apple juice and fresh eggs. Eventually we’d like to be the ‘Maggie Beer of the Perth Hills’ and this year are looking at making Verjuice and some homegrown jams and chutneys. What’s next for La Fattoria? There’s lots going on across the year at La Fattoria and we have some great ‘agritourism’ experiences that people can join in such as grape picking, olive preserving and passata making. We encourage people to sign up to ‘La Famiglia’ (the family) on our website to get notified on how to book for these events as they are already quite popular. To find out more about La Fattoria visit www.lafattoria.com.au or call Lucy to book your Nonna’s Family Table on 08 9293 7888.