Single origin coffee beans and chocolate have been on our radar for years, but North Lilydale’s Summerlea Farm is now selling single origin angus beef.
North-East producers Rick and Liz Mahnken have tapped into a market of consumers who want to know where their produce comes from – and have packaged that produce in a box.
The Mahnkens come from six generations or farmers, but the couple have turned traditional beef production on its head.
“My husband took over the farm from his father and it was just ticking over. We used to sell our calves at Powranna and we didn’t know where they ended up [after being sold],” Mrs Mahnken said.
“We started direct sales of beef boxes, which appeals to people who want to know where their meat comes from.”
The beef they sell comes solely from their property, and once they realised this was a unique selling point they were able to innovate.
“When you buy our beef, you only buy our beef,” she said.
“Our animals are born and raised right here on our farm. That means from day one we know exactly what they have eaten and how much care and attention they have been given.
“We can tell you if the animal has a crooked ear or which paddock they were in.”
The Mahnken’s single origin beef idea has come along even further since the couple joined this year’s Sprout Producers Program.
“We’ve learned a lot since starting on Sprout,” Mrs Mahnken said.
“For small producers like us, Sprout was the catalyst to take our idea to market and develop it from the hobby farm it was a year ago.
“We wanted to have more of a relationship with our customers. They tell us what they’re cooking,” she said.
Not only can customers trace Summerlea Farm’s beef, they will also be able to visit the farm, with future plans to run access days.
“It is incredibly gratifying to connect with people who care about the origin of their food and to see such a show of support for small producers.”
“It’s mutually beneficial – they want low stress [meat] and it becomes a partnership after a while,” she said.
The almost 57-hectare farm has small numbers, in keeping with Summerlea’s boutique philosophy.
“We have 30 to 35 breeders and a bull called ‘Handsome’. If you’re going to have a ladies man, he’s got to be handsome,” Mrs Mahnken said.
Summerlea Farm Beef boxes are stocked with prime angus yearling cuts prepared in different ways.
“When you know your farmer, you know your food.”