A place of inclusion – providing employment for people with a disability. Summerland Farm is one of the most successful disability enterprises in Australia – perhaps the world. As a business of Australia’s largest disability service provider, Aruma (formerly known as House with No Steps), our purpose is to provide employment for people with a disability.
Over the years, our farm has gone from strength to strength as the agricultural hub of the region and a must-see tourist attraction. We now have over 80,000 visitors per year!
In 1956, 28-year-old Lionel Watts caught what he thought was the flu. In fact he had contracted polio, which eventually resulted in quadriplegia.
After leaving hospital, he was turned away from countless jobs due to his disability. Lionel realised it must be happening to others too, so he began a journey to make a difference and formed House with No Steps (now Aruma).
Our farm opens
In the early ’70s, Lionel discovered an emerging opportunity in Australia: growing avocados. After surveying land in NSW, he came across a property at Alstonville that he considered ideal.
In 1972, Summerland Farm was established, beginning with the first of what has grown to 2,000 avocado trees and providing employment for people with a disability.
Our farm today
We now employ over 100 people with a disability. For our staff, employment with us is more than a job. It provides a chance to learn new skills, gain valuable workplace experience and meet new people.
With support from the community, our goal is to continue to grow and create even more opportunities for people with a disability, according to Lionel’s original vision.
Did you say volcano?
Yes, Summerland Farm is in the centre of a volcano that erupted 20 million years ago. Over time this region became a caldera and as a result, home to some amazing plant species and rich volcanic soils. Have you noticed our farm’s rich red soil?
On June 9, 1928, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith made a world-famous flight across the Pacific in his plane the Southern Cross. Blown off course, his co-pilot recognised Alstonville from the sky and they got the plane back on course over our farm.
Alstonville – you beauty
Alstonville is famous throughout Australia for the town’s stunning signature purple tree, the Tibouchina Alstonville. Every March the area blooms with a beautiful purple flower – a sight to behold! Stroll around and see for yourself!