Goats have the goods

Holy Goat Cheese in Sutton Grange is living proof that small farms can be successful farms.
The organic farm has taken out the Producer of the Year title in the 2018 delicious. Produce Awards and earned a gold trophy for its Cheese Nectar, as judged by a national judging panel.
Owners Carla Meurs and Ann-Marie Monda say there’s often a belief in agriculture that growth and increasing in size is the only way that you can run a financially successful business.
“This is a small farm, we are on 200 acres, and we employ 10 people,” Ann-Marie said.
“After winning awards like this people often say, so you’re going to grow now. Our growth is about growing young people by educating them, and growing our sustainability.
“We have a great workforce and we put a lot of effort into the sustainability of the land and the sustainability of our systems. There’s lots of ways to grow that aren’t about more land and more animals.”
Investing in passing on their knowledge is so important that the farmers hope to build a cheese school and a cheese retail outlet in Castlemaine.
“One of the limitations for Australian dairy farms who want to value add – or for people who want to be cheese makers – is having access to high-quality training,” Carla explained.
“Cheese-making is a complex science, it’s a visual tactile process for each cheese, and we have to train everyone.” Carla said some people were going overseas to access more training but if the industry was to grow, it needed the capacity to train here in Victoria.
“It is the dairy state. We’ve got a brilliant dairy industry here, but we import 70 per cent of our specialist cheese from Europe.
“Here at our farm we are training the next generation of cheese makers, but we can’t do enough here, it needs to go beyond that, that’s why we think a cheese school would be great.”
The delicious. Produce Awards are designed to celebrate the country’s most outstanding ingredients and regions, inspiring sustainable producers, farmers markets, innovators, and regional and emerging chefs.
The awards recognise producers across four major categories (From the Dairy, From the Earth, From the Paddock and From the Sea).
delicious. Produce Awards ambassador and judge Matt Moran said it was a privilege and honour to be a part of the awards and judging panel.
“It was wonderful to see some innovative new winners together with some of the most consistently year-on-year extraordinary produce, like, of course, our worthy Producer of the Year, Holy Goat Cheese.”

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