Storybook Setting

Flicking through images of children lolling in the grass and reading stories aloud on an expanse of lush, green lawn, you would be forgiven for thinking you had accidentally stumbled into a scene from an Enid Blyton novel. Meet the Vanderkoois – life for this family of seven really is all about health and happiness.


Welcome to Roots: Food, Farm, Family, the blog where we hope to share all of the goodness happening on our farm. I’m Lucy – Roots editor, writer and occasional photographer. In the spirit of transparency, let me tell you up front, I’m an Aussie, so forgive me if a little jargon slips in from time to time. It’s hard to believe this is my job – to simply tell stories, something so many other amazing bloggers out there do purely for the love of it. I also get to work with an amazing team of creative and inspiring people – our farmer Pete, Hieke, our resident chef, and our feature story photographer Tanya Goehring just to name a few. This is where we hope to share a little bit of the awesomeness that happens around here every day.


For our first feature, we thought what better story to tell than that of the little family behind the farm. The Vanderkoois very graciously allowed us into their home for this photo shoot and accommodated all of our crazy requests.


“Of course, I’m always getting Bill to take the dining table outside so we can eat dinner on our front lawn,” Helinda jokes during set up.


“This is real life, right?”


We were armed with a shot list and detailed schedule – we wanted this photo shoot to be perfect. Of course, in the end, it was between shots when the magic happened – when we just let them be.


Helinda and Liam (10) are playing a casual game of basketball in the driveway. On the other side of the yard, Annabelle (12) sits in a hammock playing guitar as Violet (8) and Lucy (6) watch on. Meanwhile, four-year-old Joe is off playing in a pile of dirt which will soon form part of a vegetable garden – it’s clear he already has green thumbs.


As Vitala Foods CEO, Bill together with his wife Helinda share a mission to bring healthy, functional foods to the world in the form of eggs, milk, yogurt, icecream and very soon, cheese.


To say their lives are full would be an under-statement. Running five growing companies, raising five children and ferrying them from school to their various extra-curricular activities is no small undertaking. Both say it’s a balancing act which would not be possible without the other.


“I think a lot of credit goes to Helinda because she’s got them in a good place,” Bill says of how they make it work.


“Sometimes I think, it would be hard if it was just me. If he didn’t help like he does help out with the kids’ activities – for me to do it alone – I just don’t see how it would be done,” says Helinda.


Spirituality is also a strong driver in the Vanderkooi family. When talking with their children about health and wellness, they talk about nourishing body, mind, heart and soul and setting goals for each area of their lives.


“We are Christians and really our lives are all about serving God with our bodies, minds, hearts and souls,” Helinda said.