passion pays off
A family holiday sparked a boy to announce he would move to Tasmania. That dream has become reality for a former Sydney butcher. Roger Hanson reports
BEING a pig farmer may not be everyone’s choice, but for one Huon Valley producer it is a dream come true.
Luke Trengrove, 36, worked as a butcher for more than 10 years in Sydney for Penny’s Quality Butcher at Mosman before moving to Tasmania to pursue pig farming.
Mr Trengrove bought an 11ha property about two years ago to create White Grove Farm at Glen Huon.
“I’ve had a lifelong dream to live in Tasmania. When I was 14 years old we came here on a family holiday and I told my parents I will come back and live here,” Mr Trengrove said.
“I sold my house in Sydney about two years ago when the prices were ridiculous and I sunk everything into this farm.”
He met Kiri Harvey, a Tasmanian, on the beach at Kingston. The couple, now with baby Eedie and seven-yearold James, plan to marry in November.
“I have never farmed before, my only experience was in the meat industry, but I had a passion for pigs and I am so pleased to have made the move,” Mr Trengrove said.
“I like pigs because they are approachable and all have differing personalities.
“It’s all about the food and the provenance of it.”
White Grove Farm specialises in Wessex Saddleback pigs, which are grown slowly to maximise flavour and to minimise fat.
The farm has been set up with the pigs’ best interests in mind, with purpose-built wooden and tin huts lined with hay and vast roaming areas.
The farm also boasts Hereford steers, Friesian dairy cows, heaps of egg-laying mix-breed chickens, honey bees, a few sheep, fruit trees, vegetables and a berry patch.
“We love it here and love this type of farming.”
The number of happy Wessex Saddlebacks on the property varies, but at the time Tasmanian Country visited the farm had seven sows, two boars, 14 porkers weighing 30kg to 50kg and 35 slips or piglets aged up to 10 weeks.
The pigs are able to wallow in mud, search for food, uproot grass and generally live a happy life, with plenty of exercise areas on the farm’s hills.
The family is dedicated to creating quality pork products by way of a superior diet, free-range living and ethical handling.
Ms Harvey, who is on maternity leave from her position at Ambulance Tas in Hobart, said Mr Trengrove had a passion for his farm.
“I have never met anyone who loves his animals as much as Luke does. He really takes care of their every need, even during the night” Ms Harvey said.
“I have a medical background and before the farm I didn’t know much about food and where it came from or about pig farming.
“But now I am really loving the whole picture, our farm and our family, and the success of Luke’s markets.
Ms Harvey said the farm block was perfect for the pigs.
“Being on a sloping property the pigs can run up and down the hills which produces a leaner meat,” she said.
“It’s amazing to think it takes a sow exactly three months, three weeks and three days to produce a litter.
“Our pigs are free to forage and root around as part of their natural omnivorous diet.”
The pigs are fed a nutritious crushed grain feed from local producer Seedhouse, which is a mixture of cracked wheat, soy, barley, peas and canola. Their diet is also supplemented with leafy greens and seasonal fruits.
After being raised from birth on the property, the pigs are processed 20
I sold up in Sydney when prices were ridiculous and I sunk everything into this farm
minutes up the road at the Cradoc abattoir. Then Mr Trengrove assists the team at N.C. Griggs Butchery at Huonville to process the pork.
He praised the team at Griggs as “a great bunch of blokes” who have been really helpful.
“I am working towards my own commercial kitchen on site so we can do everything, apart from the kill, on the farm.
“I was discouraged from selling inferior products to customers while working in the industry, which is why I want to work towards a true paddock-to-plate experience.”
Mr Trengrove makes a range of gourmet sausages, nitrate-free bacon and all traditional pork cuts.
The farm produce is sold at Hobart’s Farm Gate Market.
Mr Trengrove said the next step for his enterprise would be cooking at events. He said the business had just been accepted into the Street Eats @ Franko market in Hobart.
FREE TO ROAM: Luke Trengrove feeding pigs on his Glen Huon farm. From top right: two-week-old piglets; Mr Trengrove with a piglet and son James, 7, partner Kiri Harvey and baby daughter Eedie; Dutch, a German Shepherd-Great Dane cross and Shih Tzu-Chihuahua cross Nelson; White Grove Farm products.