Victoria has long been recognised for its food production, with the emphasis on quality, whether through locally grown products, high levels of craft, boutique or non-conventional systems. It is a growth area for artisanal agriculture and premium food. Chosen methods and styles of production in this field are very diverse from raising rare breed animals for meat or dairy production to growing and processing high quality gourmet products. Agriculture Victoria recently launched a $2 million program to support the development of these businesses and support services. The Government will work with premium food producers and industry groups to identify needs and opportunities, as well as exploring the distinctive characteristics of each region.
Secrets spoke to local producer, Natalie Hardy-Hurst who with partner Jonathan run Brooklands Free Range Farm in Blampied, an award winning, ethical and sustainable rare breeds farm with Berkshire pigs, British White cattle and Finn sheep. Natalie said “This program is so exciting. We have waited a long time to be recognised by the State Government. They have now seen that small scale producers are the life blood of farming in this country”. Asked how the government program will benefit them, Nats said, “we’re still waiting on the detail, but it would be fantastic if it included some cash grants”, adding “we really want to open a farm gate butchery, but the costs of setting up are prohibitive, if we had assistance we could supply consumers with ethically processed, clean, fresh produce direct from our farm”.