Rob has recently returned from a jaunt down to Albury to check in on an exciting project (more to come on that!) and attend the Farming Matters conference. He stopped in with some of our farmers along the way - here's a glimpse into his trip!
Stayed overnight at Barambah with Jane, Ian and their two daughters for a great dinner and a yarn. Supplying Food Connect with a wonderful array of milk, cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products, Barambah Organics began in 2002 when Ian converted his fourth generation family farm to organic status.
Late last year Ian and Jane made the decision to sell key stakes in the processing arm of their business to an impact investor, which has relieved them of needing to manage the factory in Brisbane while still running the farm. This is allowing them to focus on their farming operations, being able to deep dive further into more holistic organic management practices. Ian and Jane are pasture cropping now - as a vertically integrated farm they grow all of their own feed for the cows (which are 80-90% grass-fed and supplemented with grains for optimal nutrition). They're also looking at bringing in sheep for a stacked, integrated livestock system, increasing biodiversity, improving soil health and pasture cycles.
On the social front, I also found out that they've been sponsoring refugees with visas, long-term jobs and housing (and encouraged them to join the local cricket team!).
Meanwhile, Jane was instrumental in helping stop a quarry going ahead on the Dumaresq River and is almost finished her law degree - she's looking forward to focusing on environmental law now the factory is off her plate!
I also stopped in with the Meron family at MacIntyre Brook, who supply our cold pressed olive oil. We lunched on corned wagyu and pickle sandwiches (all from the farm) as I learnt about their incredible journey to set up an integrated holistic farm that involved all the family - Yigal and Jo, their eldest son Boaz and his wife Sam, and younger son Johhni who each run their own enterprise on the farm.
They grow six varieties of olives, with every 5th row of trees a different variety for pollination purposes (all drip irrigated - very low, sustainable water use). Grazing through the groves (as well as on cover crops grown on the property - currently winter oats sown into summer sorghum) is their herd of wagyu cattle.
Their pumpkin seed operation is now getting into a good swing, and pomegranates are on the way! They've only been there for 5 years but, wow, what a fantastic operation and transformation on what had been a rundown and misused property.