Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Farmers' market offers best of paddock to plate

The Heathcote Region Farmers’ Market runs on the third Saturday of each month offering people the opportunity to buy produce and talk directly to the person who grows, rears and makes the products.

BRONWYN BEYERS January 18, 2013 4:30am

Anna Kelly of Plains Paddock in NSW will be bringing her lamb products to the Heathcote Farmers Market on the weekend

The growth of farmers’ markets in Victoria has broken down the barriers between farmers and their customers.

Increasingly, people like to know where their food comes from and what it’s gone through to end up on their plate.

Newest stallholder, Anna Kelly, who runs Plains Paddock Lamb in southern NSW near the Victorian border, is passionate about her Dorper lambs.

Ms Kelly’s business began in late 2006.

She decided to move back to the family farm when she saw the farm was not producing an income in the extended drought and thought she could change their irrigation property to something more sustainable and profitable.

‘‘The idea for my business began when a friend (and restaurateur) suggested we grow Dorpers, a robust South African meat producing sheep that is naturally fast growingso there’s no need for chemicals, drenching or lot feed finishing,’’ Ms Kelly said.

‘‘The Dorpers just seemed to fit in and did well on pretty much nothing which was perfect in the drought conditions.’’

Anna started with a flock of 16 Dorper ewes and over six years has grown her flock to 1000 Dorper and Dorper-Merino ewes to ensure continual supply to restaurants and her growing customer base of home delivery and farmers’ markets.

‘‘Our sustainable farming practices and breed selection means I can guarantee a constant supply of lamb under almost any conditions,’’ she said.

‘‘The abattoir is 40 minutes away from the sheep yards, I muster and have lambs resting at the abattoir within two hours from grazing in the paddocks.

‘‘The welfare of my animals comes first. We don’t process the lambs in extreme heat, we don’t use dogs, everything is done gently.

‘‘I run the flock as a whole, in family groups, with no forced weaning as it stresses the lambs. The lambs outgrow milk and move onto the native grasses as they age.

‘‘I believe our low-stress husbandry practices are reflected in the taste and quality of the end product.’’

Plains Paddock Lamb will be among 20 other stallholders offering a diverse range of produce for sale at this weekend’s Heathcote Region Farmers’ Market, Barrack Reserve Park from 9am to 1pm.

For information, contact Sherrie Coote 0417598460.

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