WORDS + IMAGES: Georgina Morrison
There is an all-encompassing sense of peace and calm at Rosehaven Farms. Nestled near Mount Zero, at the northern end of The Grampians, this property is the realisation of a dream come true for Pam Pratt and her husband David.
The couple met through the Army Reserves, where they worked for a number of years; a career that would see them move across the country to live everywhere from Melbourne to Darwin, and Sydney.
“Before we moved away, I made a promise to my sister who had MS (multiple sclerosis) and lived here (in Horsham), that I would come back to be with her,” says Pam.
When her sister’s condition deteriorated 20 years later, Pam and David moved to their first property at Haven in 2012, where they were able to have livestock and the country life they had always desired.
Pam’s return to the Horsham region was not only a process of coming full circle but also overcoming adversity.
After a childhood sadly shadowed by domestic violence and abuse, Pam recalls her aunt’s farm at Gerang Gerung as being her ‘safe haven’. Pam had changed schools 13 times before her secondary education, and lived with devastating traumas.
“That’s where I found going to my aunty’s place, with the animals, was really important to me,” Pam remembers.
As a passionate spinner, Pam always wanted alpacas and sheep. Their first alpacas, Celine, Fleur, and Helena were like members of their family. Pam used their fleece to make hats and beanies – and this was the beginning of what she does today.
As the menagerie of animals grew and the couple started establishing an alpaca stud, they purchased Rosehaven Farms to increase their capacity. This, combined with David’s love for his two beehives, has eventuated into a beautiful, sustainable home and growing small business.
Whilst all of the honey the hives produce goes to a buyer in Melbourne, Pam says the wax is her baby.
“I take it from the hive, clean it, keep it all natural, then make products with it. I find it therapeutic seeing something that starts off so messy, being turned into something clean and useful.”
From a natural soap for sensitive skin, to a nourishing gardener’s soap for working hands, and beeswax wraps for a more environmentally-conscious home, Pam’s products have been thoughtfully created.
“The idea is that what I make is based on everything I would use on the farm,” says Pam.
“It’s the same thing with the fleece as we shear the alpacas ourselves. I take that and spin it into something I can use, and it’s just a raw process with no dyes or anything added. So if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle, it’s great to be able to have a product that you create from start to finish.”
Rosehaven Farms is not only enjoyed on occasion by the couple’s four children and nine grandchildren, but also visitors. Despite obstacles due to the pandemic, Pam has been excited to open their farm to the public and share their rural life with tourists.
“The feedback that I’ve got from people who come here is that they love it because they see who we are, and the passion we put across when we’re showing them the animals,” Pam says.
With many city visitors coming up from caravan parks at Hall’s Gap, Pam said it has been a positive experience for children.
“A lot of these people haven’t seen sheep before. We had two families come with children, and it was wet and muddy – but the kids just had a ball jumping in the puddles. They don’t get to do that at home.”
In between her remote work and life on the farm, Pam is also a volunteer firefighter. The couple joined local brigades when they moved back, and fought the 2020 fires in New South Wales and Gippsland.
Pam encouraged more women to consider volunteering.
“Women can do it. I think a lot of us don’t believe in ourselves as much as we should. The CFA is not just a ‘boy’s game’. It has given me such a sense of independence and confidence, and I would recommend anyone to join.”
This has impacted her life so positively, and given her the courage to build her business at Rosehaven Farms.
“I just think age is not a barrier. We didn’t join the CFA until we were in our 50s. Don’t let age stop you.”
Pam is now expanding her vegetable garden so visitors can hand-pick fresh produce to take with them, and the cogs are moving for a farm shop to be built on-site in the near future.
“This is going to be my retirement. It’s just where my passion is, and my idea is to start off small and build it up.”
For anyone else dreaming about starting a business, Pam says to not let fear hold you back.
“If you’re going to do something – for me it’s being a volunteer, and having the farm – if it’s inside you, you’ve just got to do it.”
Visit Rosehaven Farms for a country life experience you will never forget. Wonwondah-Dadswells Bridge Road, Laharum