Family ahead of the curve on gourmet food
Family beats rush for foodie ingredients
THERE is no denying gourmet cuisine at home has become the norm, and one family got in well ahead of the curve.
Back in 1999 Paul and Debbie Aitcherson decided to buy a small farm near Minden with a view to producing chillies.
It was a big change for Mrs Aitcherson, who worked in the police force as a human resources specialist, but for Mr Aitcherson it was out of the frying pan and into the fire from his day job at Gardenway Nursery.
The couple was set to start a family and wanted to tailor their lifestyle to create the perfect family-life balance.
Mrs Aitcherson had always loved gardening, recalling long and enjoyable days out in the patch with her dad as she grew up.
She threw in her full-time job and picked up the spade, while Mr Aitcherson started a home-maintenance business to keep the growing farm business afloat.
Since then, Mrs Aitcherson said they had slowly worked their way to the point where the farm could support the family with no additional income streams needed.
Luckily for the couple, along the way the home gourmet movement exploded and people everywhere were on the hunt for ingredients to use in their meal creations.
Mrs Aitcherson said they branched out into herbs on top of their already-successful chilli lines and these days it makes up most of the business.
“We market all weekend and we also have a herb run in Brisbane every Thursday,” she said.
“We have our ute packed full of plants and we sell them in shops on consignment.
“That enables us to go in and change the stock and keep them all fresh.”
All plants were grown from seed and quickly transplanted to growing tables where they come out sun hardened and ready to sell, a point of pride for Mrs Aitcherson.
“We’ve got a 10mx6m hot house where we establish the seeds, then they’re potted and go out onto steel benches.
“We used to grow on mats on the ground but it was a lot of bending and the stock would burn.”
She said the business was a true labour of love for the whole family, with sons Bailey and Cooper growing up at the weekend markets and helping on the farm.
She said they were getting to the point where school work kept them home for the odd weekend but, most of the time, they actually loved helping the family business grow.
The markets also offered another accidental, but solid, income stream when Mr Aitcherson decided to start making simple bird houses to sell.
Soon people were asking him to make all kinds of things, enabling him to build yet another bit of security.
LABOUR OF LOVE: Paul Aitcherson, along with wife Debbie and sons Bailey (centre) and Cooper, started The Chilli Patch, a herb and chilli supply business.