Plant­ing the

North East Living Magazine - - News -

FOR Aus­tralian Pump­kin Seed Com­pany own­ers Sha­ran and Jay Rivett, ed­u­ca­tion is some­thing they’ve al­ways thought of as a key com­po­nent to any busi­ness. As the first and only busi­ness in Aus­tralia to pro­duce pump­kin seeds for eat­ing and a wide range of ar­ti­san oils, their unique prod­ucts are not widely known, although that is fast chang­ing.

“One of my pet hates is when peo­ple treat farm gates like su­per­mar­kets,” Jay said.

“Sha­ran be­ing a third gen­er­a­tion farmer and my­self com­ing from a chef/ar­ti­san bak­ing and cheese and wine-mak­ing back­ground, food and where it comes from has al­ways been some­thing we’ve had an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for. That’s not the case with ev­ery­one, so that’s why we want to help ed­u­cate peo­ple and give them the op­por­tu­nity to learn and ask ques­tions about what we do.”

Jay said Sha­ran’s vi­sion to ap­peal to tourism, open up to other farm­ers and to cre­ate a learn­ing cen­tre was one of the rea­sons for re­lo­cat­ing the busi­ness to North East Vic­to­ria.

Sha­ran’s fam­ily first started grow­ing Styr­ian pump­kins - a ge­netic mu­ta­tion that pro­duces large seeds with no husks, in 1988 and in 2002 they estab­lished Aus­tralia’s first pump­kin seed in­dus­try. Pepo Farms, as the busi­ness was orig­i­nally known, was first based in Chin­chilla in the West­ern Downs re­gion of Queens­land. Five years ago a de­ci­sion to move south saw the busi­ness find a new home in an old nursey in Ovens, just out­side of Myrtleford. The change al­lowed for an ed­u­ca­tional space within their shop, and with Jay join­ing the team through his re­la­tion­ship with Sha­ran, the busi­ness and in­ter­est in pump­kin seeds has taken off.

Their range of prod­ucts in­cludes raw or gen­tly roasted and flavoured pump­kin seeds, pump­kin seed oil and pump­kin seed flour/meals. Some of Aus­tralia’s top restau­rants like Mel­bourne’s At­tica are us­ing and en­dors­ing their pump­kin seed oil and now health food stores around the coun­try are quickly jump­ing on-board.

The Rivetts also op­er­ate a so­cial en­ter­prise busi­ness and have worked col­lab­o­ra­tively with 25 fam­ily-run farms to press and bot­tle hazelnut, apri­cot and wal­nut oils as well as other prod­ucts. One of the rea­sons Jay and Sha­ran want to ed­u­cate and in­form cus­tomers is be­cause of the many ben­e­fits of pump­kin seeds. The dark green pump­kin seeds are well known for their high oil con­tent but are also known as a su­per­food packed full of nu­tri­ents.

“We’re be­com­ing very trendy in the health food scene in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne and we’re now just send­ing bulk bins of raw seeds to shops,” Jay said.

“They’re a healthy al­ter­na­tive and we’re even see­ing peo­ple that are giv­ing up choco­late and con­fec­tionary and are turn­ing to pump­kin seeds to snack on. We’re sell­ing more and more pump­kin seed oil, which is proven to ben­e­fit men with prostate issues while de­mand for pump­kin seed meal is also in­creas­ing at a rapid rate. Sports bar and sport drink man­u­fac­tur­ers are start­ing to dis­cover the high lev­els of protein in pump­kin seeds, so that’s driv­ing the in­ter­est in the pump­kin seed meal.”

Jay and Sha­ran have plans to one day ex­port over­seas but for now they’re busy try­ing to keep up with sup­ply to cus­tomers and clients.

“At the mo­ment prod­ucts are go­ing off the shelf faster than we can pack them,” Jay said.

“When we go down that next path in terms of ex­port­ing we want to make sure ev­ery­thing we do is eth­i­cal, sus­tain­able and we’re in­vest­ing in Aus­tralian farms rather than just for profit driven pur­poses.”

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