Quite often, our community members ask where they can purchase high quality, local, organic meat from. We’ve been thinking, plotting and planning for a while now and we’re super excited to announce that as of this week you will be able to order organic meat through us! Orders will need to be placed by 12noon each Tuesday for collection at our warehouse in Melton on Saturday between 12pm and 2pm or via appointment.
The meat will be sourced from Cherry Tree Organics and we thought that tonight we would introduce you to the family and story behind it.
Tell us about the Cherry Downs farm..
‘Cherry Tree Downs’ is a family owned, organic beef and lamb farm located 165 kilometres from Melbourne in picturesque South Gippsland,
In an effort to farm for the future we have implemented environmentally sustainable farming principle allowing stock to grow in a natural and healthy environment without the need for artificial inputs. We don’t use any pesticides, artificial fertilisers, hormones or antibiotics; instead we follow organic farming principles.
The farm is fully sustainable, a running creek and dams on the property provide water for all stock on the property. We have planted native trees all over the farm to give their animals’ shelter, wind protection and to allow for re-vegetation. This along with the clean, unpolluted air and sea breezes provides an optimal environment for our animals to grow in.
Our animals are shifted onto fresh pasture and water daily; this ensures the stock have the best possible nutrition. We use low stress stock handling methods to ensure stock are quiet and content. For example, generally when we open the gate our stock will automatically follow us, walking into the next paddock. Our animals expect to be moved into a new paddock with fresh pasture each day and know our arrival means fresh grass.
What made you go organic?
I had a light bulb moment about 20 years ago. I was ploughing a paddock and looked behind at the soil and realised it wasn’t like it used to be when I was a child growing up on the farm in the 1960s. I remembered as a child every time land was ploughed there would be a mass of birds following behind. The birds were there because the soil had turned up life ;worms, beetles and ants. The soil was alive. I realised in that moment there were no birds following the tractor as there was no activity in the soil, it was dead, killed by years of fertiliser use. It was then that we decided to make a change.
The more research we did about organic farming the more we learned about the health, animal welfare and environmental benefits. Converting to organic farming in 1993 was a drastic step; the Australian organics industry was very small and farming beef and lamb organically was virtually unheard of. But we persevered, passionate about what we were doing and confident there was a market for our high quality organic meat. At the end of the three year organic conversion process we had great quality certified organic meat however no stock agents were interested in buying our meat. Most people we approached in the organic industry said they appreciated the health benefits however they had tried organic meat and it wasn’t good eating quality.
Tell us about Cherry Tree Organics
We were determined to not sell our meat as we had in the past, to a stock agent leaving us with no idea where our meat went and who was consuming it. We had our beef MSA graded so we could guarantee to the consumer our meat was of a very high quality. With no experience in the retailing or wholesaling industry but we decided to sell our beef to consumers directly given there were no buyers for organic beef at the time.
Eventually after much persistence we had a small number of buyers for our beef. We started off very small, processing just one lamb and one body of beef at a time, which we couldn’t sell entirely as the demand wasn’t there. Selling direct under the newly created Cherry Tree Organics brand was a challenge and something a farmer wasn’t used to. Initially we were very naïve, like most farmers we just grew beef & lamb, in the past we had just sold the animal and had no idea what happened to it after it left the farm.
It’s a different story when it is your animal which you follow from the paddock through to the plate. You quickly begin to appreciate the factors which are important in eating quality and realise the life of an animal prior to its slaughter is the main factor. As farmers we had been guided by abattoirs and butchers with a focus on yield, it didn’t take us very long to realise yield wasn’t related to eating quality. We promptly returned to farming British breeds (Angus & Hereford) renowned for superior eating quality rather than yield. The herd of cattle at Cherry Tree Organics today is a result of 20 years of organic breeding, each year as we improve the quality of our breeders we improve the quality of our beef.
In 2009 we took the final step in following our product from paddock to plate. We opened the Cherry Tree Organics butcher shop in Beaconsfield, Melbourne. The butcher shop gives us complete control of the process involved in taking our animals from our paddock to your plate.
In 2013 Cherry Tree Organics entered the delicious Produce awards and was named a finalist in the ‘From the Paddock’ category. This was an extremely proud moment for us, highlighting our beef as one of the highest quality products available in Australia and giving Cherry Tree Organics the public recognition it deserves.
What type of meat does Cherry Tree Organics provide?
We provide beef, lamb, chicken and pork in a wide variety of cuts.
To place an order for organic meat click HERE.