Farmer wants a festival

There’s one call festival director, farmer and (not that he’d admit it) tall dark handsome chap Mark Foletta can rely on each year, and that’s the one asking him if he’s ready to be on TV show Farmer wants a wife. (So far, no dice.)

A festival, however, is something he’s prepared to commit to. And one of the major reasons for having Happy Wanderer Festival, is to share the beautiful farm he grew up on and his own adjoining property.

Mark’s grandfather moved from the rag trade into farming in the mid-fifties. “I think the opportunities in farming now are amazing,” says Mark. “Probably farming's in the best position it's been in a long time. I think it's definitely turned a corner from the hard years that have been experienced in the last couple of decades. There's a real demand for quality product.”

Mark Foletta and dog Bear in a ute on a dirt farm road.

Mark travelled grape tasting and calling ski events overseas before moving back to Australia. “I came back a bit earlier than I was hoping but I've got no regrets about moving back here. I've met some pretty special people and turned this place into something that's really special for not only myself but a lot of other friends,” he says.

Mark has an orchard with 1,000 cherry trees. When cherries aren’t on, he also forages mushrooms and grows French Heirloom pumpkins. You might see his produce pop up in some of Melbourne’s best restaurants including Longrain, Cumulus, Cutler & Co and Higher Ground.

“I have 22 acres of grapes, which I lease off the family company. And between Dad and I, we share farm a hundred acres of Lucerne and Angus Cattle and mixed fine wool, as well as fat lambs,” he explains. The Malbec served in the bar at festival is grown on the farm and made by Mark.

Farm vineyard sky.jpeg

His property is 25 acres and his family’s is 1,200 acres. “It's a mixture of rolling hills and nice fertile flats and there's quite a substantial amount of river frontage through that as well,” he says. Not only is it a beautiful place for a festival, it’s home to koalas, echidnas, wombats, kangaroos, platypus, goannas and the occasional wild deer.

Be sure to take a farm tour during festival to hear Mark and his dad Ian’s stories.