With her husband Cameron, she runs the Perthville Pantry; raising pasture-fed pork and beef and producing fresh produce from their farm just out of Bathurst, NSW. Hannah has very kindly written about how, why and what she and Cameron farm below, and after reading her words (please do!), I know you’ll all share my admiration for this awesome woman.
Alice, Tom and I recently spent the best day here in Perthville. We shared the most delicious meal I’ve had in a long time; (homemade pork sausages slow-cooked in local cider and served with cauliflower mash, recipe below), then Hannah took the kids and I for a walk to meet her beloved pigs. They were in turns; friendly, cheeky, sweet and obviously all as happy as, well… pigs in mud.
Before heading home, Hannah produced a few trays of homemade citrus gummies (recipe below), which my kids, I am ashamed to admit, fell upon like the piglets they’d just been playing with.
I drove away thinking how great would it be if her approach to raising meat – holistic, completely free-range, careful and respectful – could become more the norm. Like us with our deer, she and Cameron farm according to holistic management principles, and their pigs are of course, completely free-frange and completely loved, just as they should be!
Hannah the Farmer
Hannah, can you give us a bit of a background as to how the Perthville Pantry came to be?
Cameron (my husband) and I began to breed pigs as an enterprise so I could work on the farm full time. We were blown away with how different our genuine ‘pastured’ pork tasted and saw an opportunity to sell our product locally. We initially teamed up with Craig and Kate Turner who marketed our product through Millthorpe Free Range Farms. Craig and Kate decided to turn their energy onto other ventures so we created the brand The Perthville Pantry which encompasses our vision for living a healthy, happy and abundant life.
What about your own background, have you always worked in agriculture?
I grew up on my family property where we produced Merino wool and prime lambs. I studied agriculture in high school and went on to study a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the University of Sydney. Before taking the leap to work full time with my husband, I worked for NSW Farmers’ Association and the Royal Agricultural Society. My husband has always worked on his family farm producing grass-fed beef.
What are you guys working towards at the Perthville Pantry? What do you dream of it becoming and meaning to you and your customers?
We want our business to reflect our passions and to create abundance socially and environmentally. We value practices which promote the regeneration of the landscape and in turn provide nutrient dense produce for our customers. We want to share what we learn along the way.
You mentioned you have an interest in permaculture and holistic farming, how do you think these two principles can work together on your farm?
I see many parallels between permaculture design and holistic management. Both focus on observation, monitoring, working with nature rather than treating one thing in isolation. I find this thought process empowering and use both frameworks to plan for the future and to make daily decisions.
Please tell us about the pigs; how you raise them. And how and why they produce such beautiful pork!
Our customers often note that our pork tastes very different to what they are used to. The difference is that our pigs are ‘pastured pigs’ which means they have access to fresh pasture their whole life. They have the freedom to be mischievous and playful, eat a diverse diet, get out in the sunshine and wallow at their leisure. We do not use chemicals or artificial fertilisers and instead focus on the health of the soil and the pasture which in turn leads to healthy and happy pigs!
What are five lessons/resources/insights you’d share with young farmers like yourself, who are thinking about starting a branded meat or small agribusiness themselves?
- Determine your passion and build an enterprise around that. It’s a joy to work if you love what you do.
- Think big and question mainstream wisdom. Do your own research.
- Back yourself. Forget about what you think others think of you. You can stand tall if you stay true to your own values.
- Write down your dreams and aspirations. You’ll be amazed at what comes to fruition.
- Continue to learn. Read, attend courses and network.
Who/what inspires you?
I have drawn inspiration from a range of courses, books and experts in the field of regenerative and biological agriculture and the more I learn, the more there is to learn! I like to surround myself with positive, proactive and happy people.
Hannah the cook…
What is your approach to cooking? Is food a big part of your life?
I prepare meals for optimal health and wellbeing. This encompasses the joy of sharing a meal with family and friends along with the quality of the produce and the methods of cooking. I am inspired by traditional approaches to diet as advocated by The Western A. Price Foundation.
You said when we visited, that you’d love to produce all of your own food and skip shopping all-together – what do you currently source from your own farm? What do you wish you could add to that list?
I aspire towards self sufficiency and I meet many people who have the same dream. We currently produce our own beef, pork, lamb, eggs and some seasonal fruit and vegetables. I am using the pigs to prepare a ‘forest garden’ which will grow a variety of edible ground covers, shrubs and trees. My brother-in-law has an interest in aquaculture, my sister-in-law is looking to milk a few dairy cows and my brother loves to brew beer! If only cocao trees grew in temperate regions then we’d be close to having the whole diet covered!
What has been the best meal you’ve eaten recently and where was it?
At your recent book launch Sophie! Nikki and the crew from The Bathurst Wholefood Kitchen created a rich winter osso bucco using your Mandagery Creek venison. It was my first taste of venison and I was surprised at the subtle flavour. I cannot get enough of slow cooked dishes incorporating the nutrient dense qualities of bone marrow!
I know you are quite involved in the Bathurst Wholefood Coop – can you tell me a bit about what you do there?
The Bathurst Wholefood Coop focuses on sourcing local fruit and vegetables along with organic, chemical free and ethically produced meat, bread, nuts, flour, honey, dairy, toiletries, cleaning products and more. Bathurst is very lucky to have access to such a Cooperative which would not function without the support of their volunteers. I look after a team of volunteers who do one three hour shift per week. We are always on the lookout for more helpers too, so please get in touch if keen to join in!
What are some of your favourite local haunts for food and wine?
In Bathurst, I turn to the Bathurst Wholefood Coop and Country Fruit. In Orange I cannot go past The Agrestic Grocer as a one stop shop and supporter of local food and wine.
Would you mind giving us all a little explanation of how you produce the lard and tallow you use in your cooking and why it makes such a difference?
I make lard from our pastured pigs and tallow from our grass-fed beef. I simply place diced cubes of fat into the slow cooker and scoop the clear fat as it melts into a clean glass jar via a muslin cloth. I use lard and tallow for cooking and to make beauty products such as face moisturiser. Why? I hear you ask? Lard and tallow are ideal fats to cook at higher temperatures as they remain stable with a high smoke point avoiding the generation of free radicals. These healthy fats are also packed with fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2 plus provide an excellent form of energy for the human body to use. In other words, animal fat from healthy animals help you to feel fuller for longer and aid in optimal health and wellbeing.
Snags in Cider
10-12 pastured pork sausages
1 tablespoon ghee or lard for frying
225g small shallots
1 teaspoon (heaped) plain flour (I substituted with Quinoa flour)
1 330ml Small Acres Pomme Apple Cider
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
Quality sea salt and black pepper to taste
Place a slowcooker dish or casserole dish over medium heat, add a little ghee or lard and once melted, brown the sausages. Remove the sausages and put aside on a plate whilst you brown the shallots lightly.
Sprinkle in the flour to soak up the juices, and then gradually stir in the cider. Now pop the sausages back in along with the garlic, bay leaf and fresh thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pop a lid on as soon as it begins to simmer, and then transfer to the oven or slow cooker for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and let it continue to cook for a further 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with cauliflower mash.
3 large cloves garlic
2 tablespoon Pepe Saya grassfed butter
Quality sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/3 cup lemon and lime juice
2 to 3 tablespoons raw honey
1 to 2 slices of fresh beetroot for the pink piggy colour
Whisk lemon and lime juice, honey and gelatine in a sauce pan until there are no lumps. Heat over low heat until melted. Add the fresh beetroot and remove once the desired colour is obtained. Pour mixture into silicone piggy moulds and pop in the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove from the molds and enjoy.