Hello Adelaide Paleo family!
I am writing to you all after having the pleasure of taking a tour of Gum Park Beef. The owners Trev and Janelle Paech along with their children operate this paleo friendly, certified organic/bio-dynamic beef and free range, pasture raised pork farm. I sat down with Trev and chatted over a cuppa and some home-made gluten-free biscuits, the aroma from a pot of pork bone broth was cooking on top of the fireplace too which put a nice hearty smell in the air.
The farm has been in the family for around 40 years; it’s previous life was a small dairy farm which Trev’s parents operated to put his sister and himself through school. As the market was changing for the family, it was in the year 2000 that the farm turned its focus to beef. In 2010 Trev and Janelle had the calling to take over the farm and manage the every day duties, giving his parents the chance to retire but still live on the farm.
The family decided to move towards organic and bio-dynamic farming methods around 2012, this was out of respect for the animals and for the health of their family & customers. Trev said “The more we learnt about chemicals & how they affect our health as well as the biology and health of the soil. The more it drove us toward a natural, holistic way of farming.. Our concern for the health of our family, our farm and our customers has led us to organic and bio-dynamic farming. Our goal is to provide our customers with premium quality beef at an affordable price in a sustainable way”. Trev also added “I enjoy being on the farm for the flexibility, the diversity as every day is different, working with animals which I love and the ability to have lots of family time together”. On the other hand though, he says “sometimes it can be hard to find the balance between farm work and family, challenges always seem to come along especially when living at the place you work”. This all has paid off as they are now certified by NASAA, one of the chief bodies of certification in Australia!
Over the 221 acres of land that they reside on and 200 acres that they lease not far away (certified organic/bio-dynamic as well) they have 1 bull, around 40 cows, 3 sows (female pigs), 1 boar (male pig) and there were 12 piglets at the time of visiting. One of the sows named Fleck was heavily pregnant and about to drop when we visited too. They also have a few roaming chickens along with some fruit trees and vegetables growing in the garden to keep the family stocked up when in season. The breeds that they have on the farm are Black Angus & Poll Hereford cows and a Poll Hereford bull. The pig breeds are large white/berkshire, duroc/berkshire and a landrace/berkshire boar named Kevin Bacon.
One of the most interesting discoveries of my visit was this trailer below, it’s one of Trev’s hand-made masterpieces! This trailer is what holds some of the power to help fight disease, infections and to supercharge the health and happiness of the animals, which in turn increases the overall quality in the meat for the customers! This is a mineral trailer, full of essential minerals that are needed in the animal’s body, this helps assimilate and absorb the nutrients from the grasses that it eats. The soil really is the key to the health of the grass and then the health of the cows comes from the grass that it eats. The thing that blows me away is, if the soil is lacking any nutrient for a certain reason then the cow instinctively knows which tub of mineral to go to and how much it needs. The minerals may sound familiar to some of you, these same minerals are what we can be lacking in our modern-day foods too, due to nutrient deficient soils and the use of chemicals in conventional agriculture. There is lime, dolomite, sulphur, copper sulphate, seaweed meal, cod liver oil, diatomaceous earth and a Himalayan salt block which all nourish the animals when required.
At the time of visiting, Trev was also trialing a new feed for the pigs. He is comparing one that is almost 6 times the price of the normal feed they have been giving them. Preliminary results are looking good and the quality of the pigs being fed the more expensive feed is looking slightly better with regular weigh ins and checks. Trev said “Pig nutrition is a real science and one that we are keen to learn. We want to make sure that whatever we produce is as good as it can be, so doing trials like this is very important to us. We want to produce quality not quantity!” I am looking forward to seeing and tasting the results of this trial.
As we were sitting down looking over the paddocks outside the house windows, I put the following questions to Trev…
What do you do for fun? Travelling, camping, 4 wheel driving and spending quality time with family and friends. We just came back from crossing the Simpson Desert earlier this year which was brilliant to do!
What are some of the factors that make your farm unique? We have the highest ethical treatment of animals possible, we don’t use dogs or motorbikes on our farm. This keeps our cattle and pigs calm and familiar with gentle human interaction. It’s better for them, safer for us and produces better quality meat as it is stress free. We personally take 2 of our beefies or porkers to the abattoir at a time so they don’t get stressed out by leaving the herd by themselves or being transported in our trailer. We are a small family run operation looking after everything from start to finish. We believe in valuing the whole animal and making use of the whole animal. So we happily provide all that we can get back from the abattoir. This includes; Organ meats, heart, liver, kidneys, tongue, bones, fat for rendering, tanned hides (tanned locally at Pt Elliot) for floor coverings and of course all cuts of beef and pork. This is very important, so nothing is wasted! We also have full traceability of our products. Another point of difference is that we only sell what we produce on our farm.
“We have the highest ethical treatment of animals possible, we don’t use dogs or motorbikes on our farm.”
What does a typical day look like for you & the family? No two days are the same so generally it’s a 6.30am start with the kids, feed and check pigs. Then in for breakfast and see the kids off to school. Then check, feed, shift cattle. The rest of the day varies on the time/season of the year. So anything from making hay (this will be happening soon), vehicle maintenance, fence repairs/upgrades/changes, weighing cattle or pigs, taking stock to the abattoir, cutting fire wood, building portable infrastructure for pigs or cattle, spraying biodynamic fertilizer/preparations, meat deliveries and farmers markets. These are just some of the many things that can happen in a day around here… Usually the outside work day ends around 5ish for tea. Once the kids are in bed then a few nights a week catch up on office work, meat orders, pay bills etc.
What has been the biggest challenges for you on the farm over the years? The differences in the seasons have been really challenging as it impacts the availability of feed all year round. Finding a good butcher has been very hard in the past too. We are extremely happy with our current butcher though who are a local family owned company. We use the services of Wakefield Grange Butchery for all the cuts that we sell to our customers.
What lessons did you learn from these challenges? We learnt to trust God and relax, because He has shown us every time that He has a solution to our problems, that we could not come up with on our own. The challenges then are an opportunity for us to grow in relationship with God as we experience his love and care for us. If it weren’t for God we wouldn’t be where we are now.
What has changed in recent years in the way you farm and how has that impacted the farm? As we have always had cattle, the addition of pigs to our farm has been a huge change for us. We have had to learn as much as we can as quickly as we can with farming pigs. The minerals trailer for the cattle has been another big change that has had a tremendous impact on the overall health of the animals and the farm. This has seen the health of the cattle and quality of the meat skyrocket! We are looking to come up with a way of supplying the pigs with a minerals trailer too, as the pigs are a lot rougher in nature they like to tip things over a lot more, so it is quite a challenge.
Where do you see the future of the farm and how do you see it evolving? As I look at nature I see a variety of plants and animals all working together and serving one another. It’s a bit like your own body, many different parts. In nature monocultures don’t exist, in fact nature does what it can to make sure that there is diversity. So on our farm we want diversity of plant and animal species. We are working towards having pastured meat birds and eggs as well. We would like to open a farm shop to the public. Here we would stock a wider range of livestock species, meat/egg chooks and organic vegetables all grown on the farm.
Is there a difference in the taste of male or female pork products? To the best of my knowledge there is no huge difference in taste if certain measures are adhered to. The main point on how this can become an issue, can be traced back to the male pigs not being castrated and then coming into sexual maturity before the meat has been processed. As male pigs reach puberty, they start producing andosterone, a male sex hormone, and skatole, a digestive by-product formed in the intestines. The production of andosterone and skatole is responsible for boar taint, an unpleasant odour and taste found in meat from some (not all) male pigs. This is believed to be released to attract the females but it gives off a strong smell and foul taste to the meat which isn’t very pleasant at all. We don’t castrate our male piglets for ethical reasons and they are processed before sexual maturity so boar taint is not an issue. We have not received any feedback to suggest that our pigs have boar taint.
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How do you manage pests & diseases? Through nutrition, addition of the minerals and rotational grazing. Rotational grazing is super important due to the animals eating the grass, passing it through their system and leaving it on the ground to start the process all over again. If the animals were not being moved away from where they go to the toilet then they would be at higher risk to contract diseases due to oral cycling of their own manure as they would be walking & living in their own manure. By moving the herd regularly and allowing the manure to break down naturally with the help of dung beetles the nutrients are adsorbed into the soil and any internal parasites without the host (the cow) die.
Tell us something that the average person may not know after reading this? All our meat is dry aged once it has been sent to the abattoir for a minimum of 14 days, up to 28 days. This process helps to break down the connective tissue of the meat (making it more tender) and enhance the flavour significantly.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to buy organic? Look for transparency, we don’t have anything to hide here. Build a relationship with those providing/producing your food. This is another thing we love about what we do selling direct to the public, the relationship we have with our customers. It’s so rewarding for us and those that buy from us. Know where your food comes from, who produces it and how it’s produced! Ask questions!
Where can people find more about your farm and purchase your products? We have a website coming soon. Our Facebook account or email address is the best way at the moment. Our season has just started as well so we will be at the Victor Harbor Farmers Market from November-April or May every second Saturday. Saturday December 3rd is the next one there.
On every other Saturday we are at the FARM Direct Markets S.A. supporting Aussie Farms and Producers at the Old Spot Hotel, Salisbury Heights. The next market there is on Saturday the 10th of December.
We can also deliver in Adelaide generally on weekends of the markets or products can be picked up from the farm if ordered beforehand. Email here to enquire about delivery or pick up.
Frewville Foodland also stock our pork when it’s in season and the demand is high.
For more information on prices and ordering please contact Gum Park Beef
For more information about Adelaide Paleo click here
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