Few things turn me on more than visiting farms from where our food comes from. There something about going to the source, being at ground zero, meeting the farmers who toil away to feed us and hearing from them first hand about what's involved and their trials and tribulations. It's about connecting us with our food. It's about teaching my children the link between soil to plate. For those of us who don't grow our own food (and let's face it few people nowadays do) farm visits are the next best thing.
Whenever I'm back in Qld visiting my parents I enjoy taking a trip out with my kids to Grant and Glenys Currey's raw dairy farm about 40 minutes north of the Gold Coast. They started their business Wallan Vale Dairy at the same time I started my own business Star Anise Organic Wholefoods 6.5 years ago. It was around that time that time I bought some raw milk from a local organic store on the Gold Coast and simply called the number listed on the bottle. I said "Hey, I like your product, and see you live not too far from my parents place. Can I come and visit you?" From there developed a beautiful friendship over the past 6 years.
Grant's story is an interesting one. Grant comes from a long line of dairy farmers. However his fathers' operation was somewhat different. His father sold his milk to one of the conventional big milk companies who pasturised it for commercial production. When Grant took over the farm he could have taken the easy path and continued down the conventional road but he wanted to do things differently. He wanted to get back to basics and produce a pure organic raw milk the way nature intended. He spent 3 years converting the farm to certified organic status. He has 66 milking cows on 100 lush green acres and his point of difference to his competitors is that his cows are 100% grass fed. No grains whatsoever. For they appreciate that grains make cows fat and sick. And during the dearth of winter when green pasture is low, they hand feed the cows grass and hay even though grain would be a much easier option. But they don't take short cuts. "And if the cows are a little restless when we milk them, instead of appeasing them with grains like other farmers do, we play them classical music." Now that's what I call dedication. They also don't subscribe to antibiotics unless a cow is ill and their milk is subsequently discarded.
Grant wakes at 3pm to start his day. There's cows to be fed, milked and bottled all under extremely sanitary conditions. The milking shed is so spotless you could eat off the floor. Then there are the chickens that freely roam producing 2 dozen eggs a day that need to be attended to. And the bee hives for raw honey are a new addition. It's hard physically demanding work, 7 days a week.
In addition to raw milk they also make raw cream, colostrum (always ensuring that they only bottle up what's left after the calves have had their fill) and butter (all artisanally made on the premises for cosmetic purposes only as the law in this country prevents completely raw milk being sold for consumption purposes). These products are sold at Miami High School organic markets every Sunday. So if you go there, please do stop to say hi! Their raw milk and raw cream is also sold at Flanneries and a few other stores all in the Gold Coast area and just south of the border including:
> G.J’s Organic Meats, Labrador
> Gold Coast Organic Meats, Benowa
> Olive Branch, Tamborine Mountain
> Healthy House Coolangatta, Coolangatta – Organic Pantry Foodworks, Burleigh
> Tugan Fruit Market, Tugan
> The Organic Store on Bilambal Road, Bilambal
The Currey's are also thinking about making an artisan ricotta with their milk. When I mentioned this to my dad his eyes lit up and he recounted stories to me of how his family in Cyprus made ricotta from raw sheeps or goats colostrum for its powerful nutritional properties. This lost art has fallen by the wayside in my family and I hope to resurrect it one day.
The Currey's have had more than their fair share of hurdles along their path. A couple years ago their farm was almost taken away from them and they almost lost everything they had.
I'm writing this post not to promote this dairy farm for the purposes of expanding their business, as they are already at capacity and shy away from publicity of any kind (with no social media or slick marketing campaigns). I'm writing to simply share with you a story about real, honest people producing real, honest products. I'm writing to get you thinking more about where your food comes and what's been done to it before it got to your table. I'm writing this piece because people like the Currey's need to be celebrated and supported. The small artisan producers like them who are dwarfed by big business but who plough away in the conviction that what they are producing is real and right and are doing more good than harm in the world. People like these are the backbone of the ancestral health movement. I'm proud to call them my friends. I'm proud of what they produce. I thank them for their contribution in navigating the very tricky raw milk path in Australia.