This month we’re focusing on one of the most crucial industries in our region, agriculture.
One of the innovative providers in our area is Linga Longa Farm, outside of Wingham. I caught up with Lauren Newell and found out that whilst the name Linga Longa conjures up images of lazy days sitting on the verandah watching the grass grow and the cattle fatten, farming life is not that simple. Right, Lauren?
For our guests staying in the farmstay it probably is, but for us every day can have its challenges. We are privileged to live in a high rainfall area, but when drought hits it can take its toll on pastures and animals. Floods can also do lots of damage, destroying fencing and if you are not ready, leaving cattle stranded and in danger of drowning. Farming life is never a 9 – 5 job, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Tell us about your background. Linga Longa is only a handful of years old in your care. What led you to take the tree change route?
Love! I met and fell in love with a farmer! When I met farmer Greg, I had been working in advertising for over 25 years, with my last placement heading up a team planning and buying for the Federal Government advertising account. Swapping working on million-dollar media campaigns for a pair of Blundstones has been the most fulfilling time of my career.
We started selling out of an esky locally to heading to Sydney each week to sell direct to foodies and chefs at genuine farmers’ markets. Whilst I have taken the cattle business in a new direction, the Newell family were among the first to bring Hereford Beef into Australia in 1859, from Cox’s Green Herefordshire aboard the Duncan Dunbar.
It is such a diverse business you operate. Give us an insight into what goes on at Linga Longa?
We grow pasture fed cattle, using a traditional rotational grazing system, and our animals are cared for throughout their lifecycle. We know everything about our herd, from conception to consumption, and this is part of the reason we believe you can “Taste the Difference” in our product.
We employ sustainable and ethical agricultural practices and do not use artificial growth stimulants or anti-biotics in our production. In 2012, we were one of the first producers to be accredited by the Cattle Council with Pasture Fed Certification, because we do not supplement our herd with grain. In order to offset the carbon emissions that cattle produce, we have concentrated on reducing the amount of “food miles” our product travels. Unlike large-scale production systems, we can readily track the miles our product travels, because we take our meat directly from paddock to consumer. We utilise the services of a local abattoir only 4 km away and a local butcher.
We also have a 4-bedroom cottage available for guests to come stay on farm.
The Paddock to Plate philosophy is something that has become a real attraction for foodies and non-foodies. Why do you think it is important to promote organic and grass fed produce in today’s society?
Health, basically. Cattle have become like fast food outlets, fattened quickly on grain in feedlot environments. Cattle aren’t meant to eat grain; the meat does not contain the health benefits of a grass fed animal. A grass fed beast is left to roam the paddocks stress free; whereas, a feedlot animal is in a confined space and force fed. We spend a lot of our time at the farmers’ markets educating consumers not only about the health benefits of pasture fed beef but also the importance of the nose to tail experience. We do tastings of the secondary cuts, give out recipes and explain what each part of the beast could be used for. My latest venture is making bone broth, which is currently trending; it is a matter of always being one step ahead of the game.
It would be so good to see a proper food trail set up within the Manning-Great Lakes. You are a big supporter of local tourism; do you see this as a selling point for our region?
Absolutely! Our area has so much to offer consumers when it comes to the food grown here. We have the most amazing produce here, from the mountains to the sea, with macadamias, avocadoes, dairy products, oysters – the list goes on. A food trail would be an amazing event to see eventuate.
Farming and agriculture are some of our most traditional and productive industries in the Manning-Great Lakes. How can locals do more to support locally grown produce?
Buy local where they can, instead of the big supermarket chains, visit the local farmers’ markets, and buy and eat what is in season.
Having said that though, I feel that Manning Valley tourism need to get behind local producers, as I believe locals are not aware of the quality and diversity of produce that is available on their doorstep.
We continually promote the Manning via the markets and through our farmstay advertising; a reciprocal campaign would be very effective.
You have had a recent win. Tell us about the award?
We received a Bronze medal in the Australian Food Awards, Australia’s leading national food awards programme, conducted by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV). We were one of the only small producers up against the some of the national large beef suppliers. A great result, though I have told farmer Greg I expect Silver next year!
How do people get to taste Linga Longa produce?
Locals have the advantage, as we are on their doorstep; they can jump online: www.buymeat.com.au – order, and we can either deliver or they can pick up from the farm by appointment only.
For you, what is the best part about being in business in the Manning-Great Lakes?
My office – watching the cattle out the window with the Comboyne Mountains in the background; what could be better!