Ngeringa’s bounty draws a complete biodynamic picture

More than just a farm, Ngeringa has become a significant South Australian brand synonymous with freshness and flavour – across a raft of premium wines, vegetables, fruits and meats that are featured in many of the state’s best and most progressive restaurants.

It proves that Erinn and Janet Klein’s diverse 75-hectare farm at Mt Barker has captured something special through embracing biodynamic farming principals.

However, somewhat surprisingly, Erinn says the farm’s cohesive output hasn’t been the result of a master plan, rather that the Kleins have kept reacting to change and seizing opportunity as it has occurred through the past two decades.

“The original vision was simply to create a biodynamic vineyard, according to the biodynamic farming principals of Rudolf Steiner, and the concept has grown as it went along,” Erinn explains, acknowledging that Ngeringa was previously his parents’ world-renowned Jurlique herb farm.

The Ngeringa farm at Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills embraces biodynamic farming principals.

This land has been certified biodynamic for more than 20 years, establishing a unique platform for the five-hectare vineyard and straw-bale winery building that was established in 2001.

While the certified biodynamic Ngeringa brand produces a raft of significant wines – from its estate harvest of chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah and viognier grapes, with some sangiovese, nebbiolo, and aglianico – it’s the farm’s diverse food output that has made the Ngeringa biodynamic story so compelling.

“We inherited a significant fruit orchard that was established long before Janet and I got here. We introduced animals to help the land remain in balance – sheep to reduce the weeds that grow among the vines, some chickens, some Southern Highland cows,” Erinn says. “Vegetables came almost as an afterthought. It took a long time and a long of hard work before the farm managed to look complete.”

The current situation has evolved thanks to the introduction of Andy Taylor to the farm about two years ago, to specialise in vegetable production – and this only occurred because an experiment in leasing parts of the farm for share farming didn’t work.

“We found that we couldn’t attract people who were prepared to look after the land as we would ourselves,” says Erinn. “We know that requires a lot of hard work, but we were very disappointed by the outcomes, until Andy came along.”

Animals such as these Southern Highland cows, were introduced to the farm to help the land remain in balance. Photo by Tyrone Ormsby.

His expertise and commitment to growing a diverse mix of vegetables has bolstered Ngeringa’s produce output from two garden beds (which mostly fed the Klein family and a few friends) to now cover two hectares.

“Word about our vegetables kind of leaked out. We’d give a few boxes of surplus food to restaurants that bought our wine, as an added extra, and the chefs went nuts about the flavour and freshness,” Erinn says. “Everyone wanted more, but we just couldn’t provide. Andy’s energy and focus on the gardening has made expansion possible.”

Ngeringa doesn’t sell through wholesalers, because Erinn says that system couldn’t guarantee the absolute freshness of vegetables being promptly delivered. Instead, they pick to order – orders placed by Monday mornings are picked on Monday and Tuesday, and delivered on Wednesday.

Beyond this food being received by six local greengrocers and about 12 restaurants – including award-winners Orana and Africola, Gather @ Coriole and Etica – there are about 25 boxes of mixed vegetables sold to local customers.

“Having some regular families placing orders keeps it real for us, but we are now at the absolute capacity of what we can provide,” says Erinn. “Growing an array of vegetables is seriously hard work that requires an incredible skill set, and Andy is an exceptional gardener.”

Chef Brendan Cato of The Farmed Table, left, with Erinn Klein at a Ngeringa vintage lunch prepared with produce fresh from the farm.

The patience of chefs and customers to only receive what food is available rather than pressure Ngeringa for constant supply has been a game-changer – not only with seasonal vegetable supplies, but also with sporadic meat. Ngeringa runs about 110 ewes and lambs a year, which means that chefs can only be offered fresh lamb every six weeks or so as a special offer. They don’t complain.

“We’re not viewed as unreliable because we don’t have everything available all the time,” says Erinn. “Adelaide has a whole group of smart chefs who respect this. They know that food from our farm has guaranteed freshness and incredible flavour.”

The best advertisement of what the farm provides are sporadic weekend feasts held at the winery cellar door, either as special events for regular customers or as part of festivals, recently using freelance chef Shannon Fleming (formerly at Orana Restaurant) to use only Ngeringa produce.

“We can provide everything that the chefs use, except dairy, and it shows that what we have here is very special,” says Erinn. “Our biggest challenge is how to figure out how we could do more without making it impossible for ourselves to manage.

“At Ngeringa, everything is still a work in progress – perhaps it always will be – but what we’re doing is working well.”

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Farmer organisation key to sustainable ag in the Mallee

Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) is helping farmers in South Australia’s Mallee remain optimistic as they anxiously wait for a break in the drought.

The not-for-profit organisation services an area of more than four million hectares in SA, Victoria and NSW, stretching from Balranald in NSW to Murray Bridge in SA.

Allen Buckley from Waikerie in SA’s Riverland is one of the founders of the MSF, which began nearly 22 years ago.

He was one of the first Mallee grain growers to use no-till techniques, which reduced soil erosion and significantly increased yields of crops such as wheat and barley.

No-till means crops are placed in the ground without turning over the soil and keeping the previous crop stubble standing.

The word spread about Allen’s success and other farmers in the Mallee region in SA, Victoria and NSW were eager to follow suit.

Waikerie farmer Allen Buckley was one of the founders of MSF and one of first grain growers to use no-till techniques.

Farmers in the Mallee realised they needed to be represented by a permanent organisation to help them become more sustainable.

Their determination attracted funding from the Grains Research and Development Corporation and support from the CSIRO to establish MSF in 1997 and it became an incorporated body in 1998. This collaboration is still strong in 2019.

The first core sites to demonstrate no-till farming practices were established on three properties, at Waikerie on Allen’s farm and at Gol Gol and Balranald in NSW.

More than two decades later, the Mallee cropping region once seen as a dust bowl has been transformed into a lucrative grain and legume producing area.

But Allen says one thing MSF can’t control is the weather.

The 67-year-old says last year was the second driest season he knows of around the Waikerie area since the 1982 drought when SA recorded its lowest rainfall on record.

“On our property we received only 88mm of rain in 1982 and in 2018 we received just 94mm,” he says.

MSF program manager and Jabuk farmer Tanja Morgan says the organisation tries to provide Mallee farmers with the resources they need to manage tough times.

MSF program manager Tanja Morgan who has a farm at Jabuk in the southern Mallee in SA says bringing farmers together is the key to helping them through the tough times.

The organisation’s 2019 research updates, which were held at Waikerie in SA and Murrayville and Manangatang in Victoria last month, were well supported by farmers. They also featured a session on handling stress.

“We try and provide them with the resources they need and we also run a lot of field days, where we get farmers together,” Tanja says.

Growing legumes has also become a way of reducing soil erosion and increasing farmers’ viability.

“Between 2012-2016, the prices for lentils and chickpeas were strong, ” Tanja says.

Participants at a MSF Field Day at Lameroo in SA’s Mallee last year learn about spade and sow soil amelioration treatment to improve production in sandy soils.

Fourth-generation grain grower Wade Nickolls from Pinnaroo says his family has been growing legumes such as lentils since the late 1980s.

However, Wade made most of his profit last season from hay, which he exports to Asia and receives about $300 a tonne. He has also been involved in faba bean trials, which performed well despite the drought and frost.

Australia’s faba beans are presently attracting about $800 a tonne, with strong demand from the Middle East due to a global shortage.

Wade, who is 40, says the future of farming in Pinnaroo looks bright and the MSF has contributed to this.

“In Pinnaroo, the average age of farmers would be 35, which is rare, as in most places it would probably be about 60,” he adds.

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Yorke Peninsula boutique winery stacks high against the rest

Vineyards and rustic cellar doors are not usually associated with the towns that line the traditional barley belt of South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.

The coastal playground is more likely associated with camping and fishing, with its economy running on an engine fuelled by agriculture.

But 12km from Maitland not far off the Spencer Highway is a boutique winery offering visitors an unexpected experience.

Barley Stacks Wines husband and wife duo Lyall and Cynthia Schulz opened the cellar door 10 years ago and are now the largest wine producers on the peninsula.

While winemaking is usually left to the state’s wine-centric regions such as the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale the Yorke Peninsula still knows how to make a good drop.

Aside from Barley Stacks Wines, the region is home to a small handful of vineyards and another cellar door Emoyeni Wines at Ardrossan.

The Barley Stacks Wines cellar door.

“Because of the fact we are surrounded by wheat, barley, canola and lentils it’s probably the pollens that are impacting our grapes in a positive way, giving us flavours that a lot of people don’t expect,” says Lyall Schulz.

“We’ve done the Cellar Door Fest at the Adelaide Convention Centre for the past four years and people say to us that our wine is so different to anywhere else in SA.

“We have people drive up the road and come to our cellar door thinking it’s a practical joke because there is a winery on the Yorke Peninsula, but they come in and they’re amazed.”

Lyall and wife Cynthia bought the property 10 years ago from its previous owners, the Gregory family, who planted the original vineyard in 1996 and later launched Gregory Wines.

While Cynthia is originally from the Barossa, Lyall is a “local born and bred farmer”, harnessing his skills on the land producing wheat, barley, canola and lentils.

So when the pair decided to give viticulture a crack, they sought the help of local consultants and have since welcomed two esteemed winemakers, Tim Smith, who is widely regarded in the Barossa, and Colin Sheppard, of Flaxman Wines in Eden Valley.

Lyall Schulz of Barley Stacks Wines.

Colin is also well versed in the culinary arts having made it to the top 10 in the TV series MasterChef in 2014.

Over the past decade the Schulz’s have built the Barley Stacks brand through word-of-mouth and making appearances at a number of industry events.

Over the years they’ve also scooped a number of awards including medals at the Yorke Peninsula Tourism Awards, the Australian Small Winemakers Show and a gold medal at the Winestate Magazine World Shiraz Challenge in 2015.

Their wines are influenced by the peninsula’s climate, sea breezes and limestone sub-soils, with past reviews describing tasting notes of ‘plum’, ‘lingering liquorice’, ‘apricot’ and ‘passionfruit’.

Barley Stacks produces 25 different lines from four grape varieties, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and viognier.

They aim for an average production of 40 tonnes of grapes and between 2500–3000 cases of wine each year.

All growing, picking, processing and bottling occurs on site, except for the whites and sparklings which are bottled elsewhere.

The 2013 shiraz.

Most Barley Stacks Wines are sold direct from the cellar door, with some also sold through the Barley Stacks website, and at a couple of Cellarbrations stores in the region.

Aside from the four main varieties, Barley Stacks also puts out a rosé, sparkling wines, a fortified range and a verjuice.

Verjuice is a sour drink made from unripe grapes, made famous by SA cooking queen Maggie Beer who produces her own line.

“It’s like a Granny Smith apple juice and kids can drink it, it’s not alcoholic and you can mix it with soda water,” Lyall says.

“On the Yorke Peninsula we have the new Sunny Hill Distillery about to start up at Arthurton, so you could mix your verjuice with gin.”

Barley Stacks Wines also caters for weddings, functions and events.

Speaking of the new distillery, Lyall says he’s working with its owners as well as two other local business operators to look at ways of leveraging each other’s success.

“We are looking connectively to run tours and do things together to give a tourism experience on the Yorke Peninsula that’s quite unique,” he says.

“The tourism side of the peninsula is growing exponentially, we now have Watsacowie Brewing Co at Minlaton who are doing a great job at driving high volume tourist interest.

“We want to collectively work together.”

Barley Stacks Wines is open seven days a week at 159 Lizard Park Drive, South Kilkerran.

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Header image courtesy of SATC.

Thornby Premium Lamb shares prime produce with the world

Thornby Premium Lamb has diversified its business model by entering the export market for the first time with its self-branded lamb products.

Thornby Premium Lamb products, including retail and consumer-ready packs, hit Japan in July this year, with plans also underway to target the Chinese market.

The longstanding family business is run by Paul McGorman, his brother Alex and father John who operate the family farm at Sanderston on the outskirts of the Murray Mallee.

They also run a premium breeding property on Kangaroo Island, mating merino ewes to white Suffolk rams to produce high quality lambs raised for meat.

Paul McGorman says the family farm supplied to wholesale markets before making the decision to value-add to the business by launching their own premium meat brand, now spotted in butchers and restaurants across SA and interstate.

Alex, left, Paul and John McGorman of Thornby Premium Lamb, which won the title of Australia’s Best Lamb in 2014.

A full-time sales and marketing role was created recently to help push the Thornby brand.

“We have always been big on diversification,” Paul says.

“While we sell our own branded product in Adelaide and Melbourne butchers and restaurants, we’re very excited by our first export to Japan this year.

“We’re taking full control and we’re also looking actively into the Chinese market – we’re going to a trade show in Shanghai in November.”

Paul says the decision to branch out from the farm’s traditional ties to the saleyard market was spurred after Thornby snagged the title of Australia’s Best Lamb at Lambex in 2014.

“We always thought that one day we’d have our own premium branded products and after winning a few awards we decided it was time to put our lamb out there,” he says.

“We’ve identified that there is a trend in the food industry where people want to know where their food is coming from.”

About 6000 lambs are bred at Thornby’s Kangaroo Island property, where they are raised until they reach weaning at about six months of age.

They are then brought to the Thornby feedlot at Sanderston where they are fed a grain-based diet for about 10 weeks before reaching the end stage of production.

The McGormans crop about 2400ha per year of wheat, barley and hay to feed the livestock. They also practice in wool production.

“With our self-feeders, the lambs can access high-quality grain 24/7 and there is plenty of room for them to roam naturally.

“They therefore grow at a faster rate because they’re eating a good quality diet and not having to forage for grass all day long. You end up with produce that is tender, with a milder flavour.”

Paul, front, and Alex McGorman are behind Thornby Premium Lamb which begun exporting its own branded products this year.

Thornby Premium Lamb turns over more than 50,000 lambs a year, breeding about 6000 of them while buying in the remainder from other farmers.

The business employs a team of 14 and Paul says many of its workers are in their mid ‘20s, proving that a career in South Australia’s agribusiness industry is still a viable pathway.

“The average age of our employees is about 23, and we employ attitudes not skills. Our employees are keen to learn and willing to get involved,” he says.

“There is strong jobs growth in agriculture and the meat and wool prices are going up, so it’s definitely a good time to be involved in agriculture.

“We’re excited by the future, enough so that we are significantly investing in a new shearing shed with a purpose-built showroom to display our product range.”

Thornby Premium Lamb products can be found at The Barossa Co-op,Feast! Fine Foods at Unley, Norwood, and the Adelaide Central Market, and increasingly in a number of SA restaurants supplied by Galipo Food Company.

“When you support local brands you’re supporting local farmers,” Paul adds.

Industry in focus: Agribusiness

Throughout the month of October, the state’s agribusiness industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian farmers, producers, agricultural researchers and biosecurity workers are the lifeblood of our country communities and are big players in the state’s overall economic welfare. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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The Dairyman goes back to Barossan basics

An artisan dairy farmer in one of South Australia’s most renowned regions is pushing a paddock to plate ethos that is helping support the local produce industry.

Barossa Valley producer Michael Wohlstadt is behind The Dairyman, maker of handmade butter, cream and premium fresh pork cuts, as well as cured and smoked meats.

The dairy and pork products are produced on site before leaving for some of the state’s most prestigious restaurants, including Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year, Orana, its sister venue Bistro Blackwood and rooftop bar and restaurant 2KW.

Michael has lived on the traditional, mixed-farm property between Lyndoch and Williamstown for the past 40 years, raising a small herd of 20 Jersey cows for milk that goes into premium cream and butter products.

“It’s very old school, we use a milk machine but it’s a very old system and it’s hands on, low stress, very laid back, but fairly manual process,” he says.

“We milk the cows and at the moment about 60% of the dairy goes into the cream and butter and the balance is the skim milk by-product which goes to the pigs to see out a substantial diet.”

The Dairyman, Michael Wohlstadt.

The free-range Berkshire and Tamworth pigs are among few Australian pig herds fed milk opposed to usual grain feed.

But along with the milk, the pigs are also fed grain sourced from a local farmer about 5km away “meaning total food miles are quite low”.

“Nothing leaves here as a commodity, it all leaves here as food,” Michael says.

“The pork is killed and processed offsite in the Barossa and comes back here for distribution, it goes into ham, bacon and fresh pork.”

As for the dairy products, cream is produced on site, as is the butter which is churned in small batches onsite using traditional methods that capture a full, creamy flavour.

Aside from Orana, Blackwood and 2KW, The Dairyman also supplies Magill Estate Restaurant and InterContinental Adelaide.

Its products can also be found at the Adelaide Central Market’s Smelly Cheese Shop and Lucia’s Fine Foods, as well as the Barossa Farmers Market, Barossa Co-op, Adelaide Farmers Market (every fortnight) and online.

The Dairyman Farm Butter.

Michael has adopted a mixed farming approach, a method common 50 years ago where landholders would undertake a number of complementary agricultural practices between.

“Mixed farming was common in those days where you had a small herd of cows to make cream and then there would also be the skim milk left for the pigs,” he says.

“When I came to the Barossa that was still very common, but now agricultural regions have gravitated towards a single dominant stream.

“We have seen a reduction of dairy farms in the Barossa, there is only a handful now.”

Michael came to the Barossa at the age of 12 with his German parents who migrated to Australia post-WW2.

At the age of 23, Michael bought his current property in the foothills of the Barossa ranges, milking a herd of 40 cows, pursuing a successful career in town planning and helping raise three children.

Taking on the life of a dairy farmer full time, The Dairyman business was born eight years ago.

But the farming venture means more to him than just his income. He also takes pride in assisting the animals’ welfare with comforts such as rugs to keep the cattle warm and a shelter for the pigs.

Michael has a strong paddock to plate ethos and takes pride in the comfort of his livestock.

Rugging cows is not common practice, but Michael says it plays a part in ensuring the livestock live healthier lives, and in turn make better quality products.

“They are healthier because they are using less energy trying to keep themselves warm, meaning more energy is available for the two things they have to do which is produce milk and grow a calf,” he says.

“The pigs also have a shelter, so it’s a very warm environment and in summer they have plenty of shade.

“A low stress environment is very important for the welfare of the animals. Happy pigs and happy cows make happy products.”

The Dairyman has won many awards over the years including a gold medal at this year’s 2018 delicious magazine National Produce Awards.

While producing high quality dairy and pork products is at the forefront of The Dairyman’s operations, delivering an authentic farm experience to visitors is also a priority.

Michael also runs accommodation offerings at the farm, one is a luxury cottage that was once a working milking facility, the other an 1840s house once used to cut chaff and crush grain.

Guests are treated to a breakfast full of local produce and are also invited to join Michael during the afternoons to feed the pigs.

Michael says the majority of guests are domestic visitors, while 15-20% are international visitors.

“When you come and stay with us we spend a bit of time with you in the afternoons, you can hear the stories, feed the pigs, and that is something you won’t get elsewhere,” he adds.

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WSB’s 80-year partnership with SA agriculture

Anyone who knows farming, viticulture and even motorbikes in South Australia has most likely heard of WSB Distributors.

And it is easy to know why, after 80 years in business in the Clare Valley – and now also in Saddleworth and Jamestown – it is a name that is synonymous with agricultural machinery sales and service.

These days Phil and Rob Stanway head up the business, but it was their grandfather, a then young accountant AJ ‘Johnny’ Walker who started the legacy in 1938 originally as a tax and land agency known as AJ Walker.

AJ Walker was to see many guises over the years – taxation and property, fuel and cars, and a garage for servicing cars set up in 1952 in the very same building the business’s head office operates from today in Clare’s main street.

While the head office’s insides may have been modernised since WSB’s beginning, its attention to customer service remains as strong.

WSB’s long partnership with Massey Ferguson tractors continues today.

Phil and Rob’s late father Brian arrived on the scene after moving to Clare from Millicent in 1959.

He met their mother Raelene – who was working in her father’s business – soon after arriving in town and it was the beginning of a wonderful partnership in both marriage and a business that would eventually become known as WSB Distributors.

WSB’s commitment to service has been ever-strong throughout its history, however the business has honed its focus on agricultural and viticultural machinery sales and service in more recent years and gone from strength to strength.

Brothers Robert, a co-director and WSB’s accountant and economist, and Phil, co-director and sales manager, now head up the leading machinery dealership, although Raelene remains an ever-present guide.

With three branches now operating across the Mid North the business has seen, and survived, massive industry changes, including a rationalisation of farm machinery dealerships and machinery manufacturers.

Phil, Raelene and Rob Stanway cut a birthday cake to mark the milestone 80th year of WSB Distributors.

WSB Distributors now employs 43 full-time staff, three junior and three adult apprentices, and has a fleet of 16 on-farm service vehicles servicing as far as the Eyre Peninsula due to demand for their expertise.

“I’m really proud of the company’s longevity and our staff,” Phil says.

“We have several staff who have notched up 30, 40 and 50 years of service but the effort of all the staff regardless of how long they have worked for the company is what keeps the business going and we couldn’t do it without them.

“I think also part of our success has been our ability to stay ahead of the game and quickly recognise what will work and what won’t.

Massey Ferguson has been a strong foundation for the success for more than 50 years and introducing other brands such as Manitou and Kubota has supported the business well.”

Header image: Rob and Phil Stanway in front of WSB Distributors in Clare, originally started by their grandfather, a then young accountant AJ ‘Johnny’ Walker in 1938. Photo by Gabrielle Hall.

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Kangaroo Island showcases pure grain to the world

Kangaroo Island Pure Grain (KIPG) is helping to further strengthen the island’s clean and green reputation to drive export markets and support local farmers.

For more than a decade KIPG has endeavoured to provide premium returns for local growers of non-genetically modified grains, oilseeds and pulses that are fully traceable back to individual farms.

While the domestic market is an important part of KIPG’s operations, its export market makes up the majority of its sales.

Recently the company hosted a delegation of Japanese buyers who visited the island for a first-hand insight into the local grain industry and the pristine environment.

“We have high interest from Japan in our non-GM canola, so we’ve been doing business with them for nearly 11 years,” says KIPG CEO Shane Mills.

“Our canola goes to Japan as pure non-GM canola oil and they’ve really embraced the clean, green and pristine environment it comes from.

“That’s the real success story to date for KIPG.”

Delegates on their visit to KIPG in 2017. A group also visited the island this September.

Recently KIPG has branched out to help local farmers find new niche markets, particularly with well known brands in the food and beverage industries.

KIPG collaborates with iconic South Australian brewer Coopers to supply Westminster barley used for making beer.

The barley is malted at Coopers’ $65 million new malting plant in Adelaide and is also supplied to boutique breweries.

The collaboration has eventually led to the making of the island’s very first whiskey, produced by Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS).

KIS is preparing to distil the single malt whiskey also with the help of the island’s Drunken Drone Brewery and port barrels sourced from Bay of Shoals Wines.

KIPG CEO Shane Mills says relationships with well known companies such as Coopers and other leading businesses on the island “gives another arm to help the growers’ profitability”.

He says KIPG also supplies biscuit wheat to Adelaide’s Allied Mills which makes Arnott’s Tim Tams.

Drunken Drone Brewkery’s Greg Simons, left, Member for Mawson Leon Bignell, Kangaroo Island Pure Grain manager Dennis Jamieson and Kangaroo Island Spirits’ Jon Lark each enjoy a Lark Whiskey. They’ll have to wait two years before the island’s first whiskey is matured.

Kangaroo Island’s grain growers provide up to 20,000 tonnes a year to KIPG, with commodities including wheat, canola, broad beans and malted barley.

“Our broad beans that we grow on the island go right through South East Asia and they go into snack foods – similar to how we eat peanuts,” Shane says.

“We’re marketing that right through Indonesia and through Taiwan and we’re just breaking into the Middle East now.

“That’s another success story that’s provided our growers with another profitable crop.

“If you look at dollar terms our percentage of export is somewhere around 70% and tonnage wise it’s about 50%.

“We’re pushing to grow the export business a bit and maximise the value of our crops.”

KIPG was established in 2009 by a group of local grain growers who were looking for a more viable alternative than the local silo system to market their grain.

Shane says costs for transporting freight off the island to the mainland was a “real catalyst” for establishing KIPG.

“Our job is to market the grain at a profit that negates the freight factor, so we’re very much into niche marketing because we don’t accumulate hundreds of thousands of tonnes,” he says.

KIPG’s site near Kingscote on Kangaroo Island.

KIPG receives, classifies, stores, processes and markets the majority of the island’s premium grains, oilseeds, and pulses.

At harvest time – usually in early December – grain is sent to the KIPG receiving and storage facility just outside of the island’s main business hub of Kingscote.

KIPG partners with local trucking company Ugly Dog Transport to send the grain on the SeaLink ferry to domestic buyers.

It also has a processing facility at Osborne in Adelaide where the product is graded and packaged ready for export.

Kangaroo Island local Ben Pontifex is a fifth generation farmer, growing canola, broad beans and malted barley.

He says having a collaborative approach to grain growing on the island is “beyond integral” to the local industry’s livelihood.

“It gives us a fighting chance with the freight rate, and logistically too, all the way through from harvest to the end markets.”

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The grain idea that paid off into a fine food venture

Sometimes all it takes is a bit of thinking outside the square.

That’s exactly what fifth generation Clare Valley farmer Jim Maitland did in 2011 when he value-added his family’s durum wheat by launching a line of wholegrain pasta.

The Pangkarra Foods brand included a stone milled wholegrain flour and lavosh, giving the Clare Valley family a chance at a secondary income and launching them into the world of fine foods.

But the length of the boutique enterprise didn’t stop there.

In 2016, Pangkarra released a paddock to plate range of ready-to-eat snacks that are now sold Australia-wide.

The roasted pulses range has been a hit.

The line includes an Australian first in cooked and ready-to-eat chickpeas, as well as a trio of snack packs featuring roasted chickpeas, faba beans and broad beans.

Managing Pangkarra Foods is Katherine Maitland, Jim’s wife, who also has a background in media, marketing and public relations.

She says the range of snack pulses now make up to 50-60% of Pangkarra’s total sales, while a small portion of the range is exported to Asia.

“Paddock to plate-style, healthy snack ranges are really growing in popularity, especially with the nut free and gluten free (movements),” Katherine says.

“With the snack range there is less competition and a growing market – it’s been very successful.”

Fifth generation farmer Jim and wife Katherine Maitland on the Clare Valley property.

While Jim and Katherine are at the helm of Pangkarra Foods, Jim’s parents David and Margot head the family’s farm, Anama Park.

The farm, which also exports hay, has been in the Maitland family since 1866 and is the unit’s “core business”.

“We’re only starting to break even and make a small profit (from Pangkarra Foods), but the idea is that we’re building something for future generations,” Katherine says.

“It’s about not being a one trick pony, having another means to the end and controlling the supply chain a bit more.”

Pangkarra products are now sold in 150 stores Australia wide and online.

The name Pangkarra is an Aboriginal word which holds great significance to the Kaurna people and means a small piece of land that has been sustained for generations.

The Maitland’s Clare Valley farm has been in the family since the 1800s.

The family practices sustainable farming methods such as the use of organic fertilisers and crop rotation (changing the type of crop grown in a particular area).

Jim’s decision to branch out from a reliance on traditional farming has also benefited two other South Australian businesses.

Once harvested, the grain for the Pangkarra products are milled at longstanding establishment Laucke Flour Mills in Strathalbyn.

Laucke uses traditional stone milling methods to grind the grain into flour.

The grain is crushed, not cut, meaning that more than 80% of the nutrients are kept, resulting in a stronger, nutty flavour and a more wholesome product.

The Pangkarra 100% wholegrain pasta range was the Maitland family’s first taste of the world of fine foods.

The flour is then made into pasta by L’Abruzzese in Glynde in Adelaide’s north east using traditional Italian methods.

While the Clare Valley is mostly recognised as the home of Australian riesling, Katherine says it’s also emerging as a valued food bowl.

“We’re very lucky to live here in Clare, which is very well known for food, wine and tourism and it’s emerging as food destination,” she says.

“We’re working with our cool climate … which is good for growing crops and wine grapes.”

Katherine stresses the importance of choosing SA and says local shoppers have backed Pangkarra since day one.

“The products might be more expensive, but the process is of higher quality,” she says.

“Our best sales are here in SA.”

Visit the I Choose SA for Industry website to read more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

Green grain guru Tony Lutfi on the ‘huge’ potential of SA freekeh

What is freekeh and have you ever tried it?

The ancient grain process has been around for more than 4000 years, but the average Aussie household has probably never heard of it.

Based in offices off Adelaide’s Grenfell Street, Tony Lutfi is the brains behind Greenwheat Freekeh, the world’s first major company producing freekeh via modern automated means.

He says the superfood is experiencing increasing demand in the western world, and that it holds huge potential for South Australia.

“We offer a unique product that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world except in primitive conditions in the Middle East,” he says.

“Why? Because it’s very difficult. Freekeh is a high technology process.”

Greenwheat Freekeh is sourced from grain harvested by farmers in the Lower Light region. PHOTO:

Greenwheat Freekeh is produced by harvesting grains from five SA famers from the Lower Light region.

The grain is harvested while it’s still green before it’s parched, roasted and dried.

The freekeh process halts maturation of the grain and captures its nutritional benefits, including high levels of protein, vitamins and minerals.

Typically wheat is harvested when it’s matured and golden.

Prior to 2001, Greenwheat Freekeh sales in Australia were less than 1% of production, but by 2017 that figure hit 52%.

Now Greenwheat is in the midst of establishing a new plant at Dublin in the Lower Light to keep up with demand.

The new facility is backed by a $900,000 State Government Regional Development Fund grant, and will increase production to 3000 tonnes by 2019.

Tony in the wheat fields in regional SA. PHOTO: James Knowler/@jkcrewphotos

Greenwheat Freekeh exports to 19 countries and is the world leader in scientific research into green grain.

It has worked with the CSIRO and the Flinders Medical Centre to undertake two studies which cemented the nutritional value of the ancient grain as well as its health benefits.

“They (Flinders) found that when they injected the mice with a carcinogen to simulate the development of cancer, the mouse that ate the freekeh didn’t develop a tumour,” Tony says.

“The apoptotic affect sweeps out damaged DNA cells from the body before they mutate into a tumour.

“There is no way I can claim it can cure or prevent cancer, but based on those scientific indicators it does help in preventing and controlling bowel cancer and possibly soft tissue cancer.”

Tony says there is potential for Greenwheat to delve into the field of nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and to extract the protein from freekeh for use in skincare.

“There is a whole area of industrial opportunities that exist in other countries,” he says.

“What freekeh does is create huge potential opportunities for this state.”

Originally a chemical and petroleum engineer, Tony first tasted freekeh when working as an advisor to the Crown Prince of Jordan.

Greenwheat Freekeh is enjoyed as a side dish, in soups, stuffings and burgers. PHOTO: Dougal McFuzzlebutt.

“He said to me that I was very lucky to eat freekeh in his house because typically freekeh is full of stones and dirt, and that by eating it in his house I could guarantee that I wouldn’t break a tooth,” Tony says.

“He told me that if someone ever developed a process to make freekeh via modern automated means and completely free of stones, then they would be successful.”

Due to the primitive way freekeh is processed in the Middle East (on the bare ground) stones and rocks are usually found in freekeh from these regions.

After leaving the role in Jordan, the American moved to Australia with the intention of settling in Perth.

Instead he fell in love with Adelaide.

“It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Australia,” he says.

Tony reflects on a comment made to him by the first person who imported Greenwheat’s freekeh to the US.

“He told me that there is nothing more painful that a product whose time hasn’t arrived and there’s nothing more rewarding that a product whose time has come,” he says.

“Well, freekeh’s time is here and now.”

Visit the I Choose SA for Industry website to read more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

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Riverland Field Days hit the big 60

By Melissa Keogh

Polish off those Rossi Boots and jump in the tractor cab – the Riverland’s largest farming expo is set to celebrate its 60th year.

Up to 13,000 people are expected to descend on the town of Barmera this week (September 15 and 16) for the annual Riverland Field Days.

The field day committee is tipping its hat to 60 years of the popular event, which allows horticultural and agricultural businesses to showcase their latest innovations, products and services.

The Riverland Field Days allows local businesses a chance to showcase their products and services.

The Riverland Field Days allows locals to showcase their businesses’ products and services.

Executive manager Tim Grieger says that while the field days are horticulturally-focused, exhibitors represent various other industries.

“It’s also embracing all other businesses including schools, banking and finance, home and gardening, caravanning, leisure, clothing and accessories, and health specialists,” he says.

“There’s no other event like it in the region.”

Demonstrations including vintage machinery, sheep herding, wood-splitting, wine tastings and blacksmithing will encourage a flurry of activity.

A home and garden section will showcase more than 50 businesses with indoor and outdoor exhibits ranging from hardware, roofing, plants, pest management and bird keeping.

The caravan and camping section is likely to excite outdoor travellers with canoe, caravans, campers, and outdoor lighting businesses on display.


Field Day Drive in Barmera will swarm with horticultural displays, 13,000 people and a splash of colour on September 15 and 16.

The Grain Line exhibit will also spark interest among broad acre farmers, who can indulge in a long line of farm machinery, products and service business stalls.

Local radio stations will broadcast live from the event, while schools and community groups will also be represented.

In a nod to the 60-year milestone, South Australian Governor Hieu Van Le will make an appearance on Friday, September 15, to officially open the event.

The Riverland Field Days will go ahead at a site off Field Day Drive, Barmera.

It features a permanent pavilion, stage and stall areas that make it ideal to host a “whole range of events”.

Earlier this year the field days committee was granted $405,000 in funding through the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund.

The money will go towards a new $850,000 pavillion to be built at the site by early 2018.

The Riverland Field Days was born in 1958, when it was known as the Riverland Field and Gadget Days with just 15 exhibitors.

The first field day on August 6, 1958. Times have definitely changed!

The first field day on August 6, 1958. Times have definitely changed!

Now the event attracts hundreds of exhibitors and 13,000 visitors.

“The Riverland is the major food bowl of the state with the citrus, almonds, stone fruit and nut industries which are increasingly expanding,” Tim says.

“There was the time we went through the drought but we have great resilience and we support each other when things are tough.

“We are seeing that revival of the region now.”

Riverland Field Day gates open from 9am–5pm both days.

Tickets are $15 for adults, while children under 18 enter for free.

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