There are few undertakings as uncompromising as farming: without the work there are no results. When the land and animals are nurtured, you watch things grow before your eyes. There are no guarantees on the land, however, which is why The Free-Range Farming Co-op is an important collaboration. It allows like-minded, sustainable, ethical farmers to work together to obtain fair prices and support each other through all the ups and downs of farming. No-one knows farming like a fellow farmer! The Co-op also allows you to support the people who grow our food by enjoying our beautiful products.
Our farmers are experts at working with the land to ensure it remains healthy and fertile for generations to come. They achieve this through employing sustainable and ethical agricultural practices, which include:
- Embracing a nose-to-tail philosophy – a philosophy of eating and cooking that involves using every possible part of an animal and thus minimising waste
- Ensuring traceability – customers know exactly who grew their food, encouraging a connection to the people, land, and animals, while also reducing double-handling
- Antibiotic and hormone-free production
- Adhering to low-stress animal management practices
- Maximising food production by bringing high-yield produce direct to the end user, using less resources, less land, and saving valuable water
- Manage the natural ecosystem to ensure the native wildlife and vegetation flourish
Rob and Kay Curtis organically farm 2200 acres of rich country on the Darling Downs in Queensland. The nearest town is Millmerran, which is some 140 miles south-west of Brisbane. Rob grew up on a family farm, where he learnt his farming skills from his late father. He then went on to study science and engineering and also studied at the College of International Business. In his younger days Robin had a career in international tennis. Kay was educated in Brisbane and went into banking before marrying and establishing a family of five children and has many active pursuits.
Rob and Kay are producers of a wide range of organic grains including cereals, oilseeds and legumes. The farm produces organic, free-range, grass-finished beef from the Poll Hereford breed of cattle. Rob helped write the national standards for certified organic growers, and says that one of the challenges for organic growers is the requirement that they keep their own seed. When growers use hybrids this leads to the future generations being not true to type, so he overcomes this by using open pollinated heirloom varieties. Some of the varieties that he grows, including red wheat, are hundreds of years old.
As Rob says, “many years ago we chose the pathways of organic/biological production systems because we believed that one day many consumers worldwide would want food that was certified free of man-made toxins. Food produced in this manner is in harmony with environmentally sustainable management systems.” Rob and Kay’s whole property is managed under organic/biological production systems, including the areas under grains and dryland horticulture.
Spanning across the floodplains between the Warrego and the Nebine Rivers in Queensland’s south-west, you’ll find soft, rolling country that naturally responds to the hint of rain. This country is known by locals and past generations as ‘Salad Bowl Country.’
The so-called Salad Bowl is renowned for its abundance of herbages, native grasses, legumes, and salt bush varieties. This environment, with its nutritious feed sources, is where the ‘Rosscoe Prime SAMM’ lambs are born and raised. The lambs are then transported and fattened according to low-stress practices on improved pastures on the Darling Downs.
It’s our privilege to be producers of premium quality Prime SAMM – South African Meat Merino lamb.
The Neuendorf family has been farming in the fertile Lockyer Valley since 1918, originally dairying and then moving on to lucerne and horticulture. After a family succession, David and Bronwyn, with son Brenton, started their own lucerne farm and 9Dorf Farms was born.
The family is passionate about sustainable farming, working with and improving the environment, and producing ethically-raised animals.
David realised that farming in today’s financial climate had little rewards and began investigating new ways of diversification, working with the environment to heal our land. This opened up new opportunities to provide ethically-grown produce marketed direct to the public. David's first venture was to grow clean and wholesome fish. After two years of research, including a trip to Israel to investigate the latest technology, a 30-tonne aquaculture recirculation system was built in 2011 on their Lilydale property to grow Australian native fish. With the aquaculture operation up and running successfully, it was now time to start the next phase of rejuvenating the paddocks, using the controlled movement of cattle, followed closely behind by poultry. It has been a long hard road battling droughts, floods, and disasters; however the fruits of the family’s perseverance are now showing.