Owned by Beth and Hayden McMillan, Burrawong Gaian Poultry is a leading pasture-raised poultry farm on the NSW Mid-North Coast.
You are part of the dynamic and emerging Macleay Valley Food Bowl, can you tell us about that, how your business has become an advocate for both that organisation and the region, and the employment opportunities it provides to local people?
The Macleay Valley Food Bowl is a Kempsey Council initiative to promote the wide diversity of small producers in the agricultural sector. We were the inaugural recipients of the Macleay Valley Food Bowl Award in 2016 at the Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, which was an honour.
The Macleay Valley is a low socio-economic area with relatively high unemployment rates, so to be able to employ five men and women all from the local district and some who have suffered injury and are being rehabilitated back into the workforce is very important and a satisfying role to play in our economy. It also allows us to manage and maintain the high growing and process standards here at Burrawong Farm as we work closely with our staff to ensure the quality of all aspects of our operation.
We have been able to help raise the profile of the produce farmed in the Macleay Valley through produce-driven dinners, media reports and advertising on the distribution boxes that go to our customers.
Can you tell us the challenges faced by smaller producers in the last twelve months?
Small producers have faced multiple issues with drought. Rising feed costs and lack of water resulting in us having to buy water for 12 months put serious pressure on financial viability. This was further compounded by the fires, where evacuation and constant threat of fire disrupted delivery cycles and also meant restaurant closures for service because of the same threats. Smoke-filled air resulted in fewer diners going out and local tourism was down over the Christmas period, which led to less demand. The overall downturn in the economy and now coronavirus has further constricted the demand for produce.
What can chefs and our readers do to make a difference to ensure the plight of the ethical and artisan producer is more sustainable?
Simply keep supporting small producers by using their product and consumers keep dining out and sourcing product from local butchers.
Whilst the industry is facing difficult times, what excites you about being part of it?
There are groups such as Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and local chefs like Pete Cutcliffe who are hosting bespoke dinners celebrating produce grown by small producers. We still have loyal customers who buy our ducks every week and after a year of struggling it gives you hope when old customers come back to support you.
What did winning G&M Producer of the Year mean to you?
G&M Producer of the Year was such an honour and again as it came amidst difficult times. It is wonderful to gain industry recognition and gives increased credibility in the hospitality industry.
Where can chefs and consumers source your award-winning produce?
We sell direct to chefs and butchers, so it is probably best to contact us by phone 0411 161 942 or email email@example.com
Burrawong Gaian Poultry
Image credit: Alicia Fox Photography