Filling the niche farming gap

SEVEN of Malaysia’s top chefs recently visited Gippsland, extending the invitation for a range of local primary producers, including myself, to meet them at a special function.

The Agribusiness Gippsland event, sponsored by ANZ Agribusiness, also saw a number of small alternative producers present, who would not normally have a chance to address their options to potential overseas customers.

Under the previous State Government guidelines, small acreage farms were not considered to need a house to operate a primary business.

But recent changes made by planning minister Matthew Guy to enable a more resilient small farming sector could lead the way for many more of these niche farming enterprises.

I am not talking just the farming of animals, but a diverse range of primary production.

This meeting of producers and chefs showed the huge potential for small farmers.

Birch and Liz Cavallaro, trade under the name of Biagiolio, Darnum Park Estate, Darnum, where they have 11 hectares housing 2500 olive trees.

Mr Cavallaro said they grow both table and oil varieties, as well as produce product they currently sell at farmers markets.

They have started local and are working toward Australia and export.

Barry Charlton, Berry’s Creek Cheese, started his 38 year working career with Drouin Cooperative Butter Factory, but for the past seven years he has been making his own cheese.

Sourcing milk from a nearby dairy farmer, Mr Charlton has won several prodigious awards, including champion cheese at this year’s Royal Sydney Cheese and Dairy Show Barry – and Australia’s best blue cheese maker with Charlton’s Choice.

Now Mr Charlton has formed an alliance with organic dairy farmer, Paul Pangrazzi, who is building a new cheese factory on his farm at Fish Creek.

Mr Charlston will lease the facility and produce organic cheeses, while teaching Paul how to make his own line of cheeses.

Another great example of successful small producers is John Commans and Penny Gandar, Caprilac Goat Milk Products.