Last Saturday, Kay and Dave Tommerup opened their farm gates to the curious public as part of the annual Scenic Rim Eat Local festival.
It was a frosty start for those eager to watch the cows being milked and ask questions, but the early start didn’t deter many young families from attending. The numbers steadily climbed as they opened the homestead gates at 10 am.
“Last year, we had almost 800 people and it was chaotic. We learned our lesson and capped the numbers this year which was much more manageable and allowed Dave and me a chance to talk to visitors and answer questions” said Kay. This year 400 pre-registered visitors made the trip to Kerry to see what life on a working dairy farm was like.
It wasn’t just the kids that wanted to be part of the action, parents got as much enjoyment from feeding the farm’s animals including calves, lamb, sheep and heritage breed pigs; learning about the food-cycle and sustainable farming practices.
“We educate visitors about the natural food chain and how we ethically manage our animals. We don’t try to sugar coat that these animals are bred to be food, but we don’t scare the kids either” said Dave. “It’s important that people understand and appreciate that farmers do the right thing by their animals from when they are born to when they leave the farm.”
“We are a micro-dairy; we can’t afford to buy more land and we won’t compromise by using unsustainable farm practices to increase the heard. We are already doing everything we can to keep the farm afloat. We run Homestays, educational tours for school children, a long table lunch as well today’s event. Within the number of hours we have left in a day we’ve got only one other viable alternative and that’s to build a Creamery” said Kay.
Through crowd-funding site Indiegogo, the campaign hopes to raise enough money to build, equip and start up the Creamery on the farm. This will allow thousands of agri-tourists that visit the property to get a chance to see how butter, yoghurt, ice-cream, and cheese are made.
The Tommerups looked to access a small business start-up loan from the Queensland Government but unfortunately, the farm does not have a high enough turnover to meet the funding criteria and they are determined to not go into further debt with the banks.
“We know that our ($70,000) goal is high but the people who came here today really seem to want to support the Queensland dairy industry and also the Indiegogo campaign, so that’s been really encouraging for us,” said Kay.
To get behind the campaign go to Indiegogo.