THEY say they are mad – but Deb McLucas and husband Rob Bauman, Freckle Farm, near Mackay, have expanded their paddock-to-plate operation to include a butcher shop.
Opened on December 14 just in time for the Christmas rush of hams, Deb said the shop was proving to be a hit in the regional centre.
“It was just 10 days out from Christmas and our goal was to open for Christmas, so we just made it,” she said.
“In the meat trade that’s your busiest time – it was crazy, it was a baptism of fire.
“You imagine opening a new business is always challenging and stressful, but doing that 10 days out from Christmas when we were doing 150 hams and processing and packaging our own product for the first time – it was complete madness.”
With a focus on organic principles and sustainable farming, Freckle Farm has been selling its eggs, pork, and beef products at markets, and moving to the butcher shop frontage was a big step for the family-owned operation.
Last week Rob spoke to more than 150 guests at the Joel Salatin two-day forum in Emerald (see story below) about the background of Freckle Farm and how the family moved from large-scale grain farmers to organic multi-breed livestock producers in 2009.
The property was originally a cane farm, and through pasture improvement is now an incredibly efficient property.
Deb said the shop, simple called Freckle Farm, on Nebo Road in Mackay, was the next step for the family, after selling at the markets.
She said without a doubt their most popular products were the bacon and eggs.
“Hands down it’s the bacon,” she said.
“Everybody loves bacon, and because the flavour is really outstanding and most people haven’t really tasted anything like it.”
The family’s new flavour of sausage, made with their own beef, local honey and local chilli, has also been popular.
In the meat trade that’s your busiest time – it was crazy, it was a baptism of fire.
Deb said the venture was a fantastic opportunity to really connect with consumers.
“We’ve recently installed a smoke oven so the next stage for us is to be able to expand the lines of smallgoods that we are making and cured meats,” she said.
“It is a constant learning curve, but it is a good thing to do the next thing before you think you’re really ready because it then challenges you.”