BUILD­ING A LEGACY

1100ha project to cap­ture emerg­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties

The Western Star - - RURAL WEEKLY - CAS­SAN­DRA GLOVER Cas­san­[email protected]­ral­weekly.com.au

IN­NO­VA­TORS: Brisbane Val­ley Pro­tein founders Dun­can Brown and Se­lena Gom­er­sall. Their story,

IT’S a big vi­sion, but Dun­can Brown and his sis­ter Se­lena Gom­er­sall hope that the Brisbane Val­ley Pro­tein Precinct will cap­ture grow­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for meat and live­stock pro­duc­tion in the re­gion.

An ex­pan­sive “pro­tein pro­duc­tion and ed­u­ca­tion master plan” on their 1100hectare site in Coominya, Queens­land, was ap­proved for devel­op­ment by the Som­er­set Re­gional Coun­cil in Novem­ber 2018.

The prop­erty is al­ready home to an RSPCA ac­cred­ited poul­try farm – with an­other one un­der con­struc­tion – a beef back­ground­ing op­er­a­tion, and a fully in­te­grated quail pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity. The ap­proval will help catal­yse plans to de­velop a restau­rant/bistro, com­mu­nity gar­den, eco cab­ins and ei­ther an ex­port poul­try or beef pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity over the next 10 years.

Dun­can Brown is a fourth gen­er­a­tion farmer in the Brisbane Val­ley re­gion and hopes to be part of the re­gion’s fu­ture in pro­tein pro­duc­tion.

“In the early 1900s, my great-grand­fa­ther, Fred­er­ick, saw the po­ten­tial in this area as a hub for agri­cul­tural in­no­va­tion and moved his fam­ily here to es­tab­lish the Good Luck Friesian stud,” Mr Brown said.

“Later, my grand­fa­ther, Arthur, earned the rep­u­ta­tion as a great dairy farmer and com­mu­nity man.

“My fa­ther, Michael, was a pi­o­neer in in­te­grated beef pro­duc­tion and we are look­ing to build on that legacy.”

Mr Brown then es­tab­lished a poul­try farm as well as back­ground­ing cat­tle for lo­cal feed­lots.

“I think our fam­ily has al­ways tried to seize the next pro­tein op­por­tu­nity,” he said.

“In farm­ing you have to be flex­i­ble and with global mar­kets evolv­ing con­tin­u­ously you need an op­er­a­tion and prop­erty that can quickly adapt.”

As part of the Brisbane Val­ley Pro­tein Precinct, the fam­ily has re­cently ven­tured into quail pro­duc­tion.

“We have a fully in­te­grated quail pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity. ‘Hatch and dis­patch’ is the best way to de­scribe it,” Mr Brown said.

“We have a hatch­ery, a quail farm and a ded­i­cated quail pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity.

“At the mo­ment it’s small be­gin­nings, around 1200 birds a week. But we’re hop­ing to grow that sig­nif­i­cantly and rapidly.

“We’re the only ex­port ac­cred­ited game bird abat­toir in Queens­land.

“The quail we pro­duce is much larger than the nor­mal quail. So if you like quail but find it a bit fid­dley, then we have a quail for you.”

Mr Brown said Brisbane Val­ley Pro­tein sourced the ge­net­ics for the larger-sized quail from Char­lie Scott, who had been se­lect­ing birds for size for the past 20 years.

“There’s ab­so­lutely no hor­mones used,” he said.

Brisbane Val­ley Pro­tein is now sup­ply­ing the quail in Queens­land and Mel­bourne and has had two ex­port ship­ments over to Hong Kong.

It sup­plies to well-known restau­rants in Brisbane in­clud­ing Cha Cha Cha, Black Bird Bar and Grill, Il Cen­tro, Ger­ard’s Bistro and Moda, as well as pop­u­lar Turk­ish restau­rant Sofra’s in Toowoomba.

Mr Brown and Mrs Gom­er­sall started for­mu­lat­ing the idea for the Brisbane Val­ley Pro­tein Precinct four years ago.

“We started the con­ver­sa­tion with coun­cil and State Govern­ment and the com­mu­nity. There were a lot of con­ver­sa­tions,” Mr Brown said.

“We looked at what would be the most sus­tain­ably vi­able way to go about this, and we went with that.

“The first two years was work­ing out what we could and couldn’t do.

“I think it (the idea) just came from this area be­ing so good at pro­duc­ing food on a large scale, and the ap­petite for Aus­tralian pro­teins is only go­ing to grow in Asia, and approvals are go­ing to be harder to get.

“We had a very lengthy 60day pub­lic no­ti­fi­ca­tion pe­riod and we didn’t have a sin­gle neg­a­tive re­sponse.

“We had sig­nif­i­cant com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion. A lot of the com­mu­nity’s ideas are re­flected in the fi­nal master plan.”

Mr Brown said the plan for 2019 was to con­tinue to grow the poul­try and quail op­er­a­tions, and source in­vestors for the next stages of the project.

“This year will be grow­ing the busi­nesses and start­ing to at­tract in­vestors,” he said.

“The joy of this ap­proval is we can go to in­vestors and say we have land that is strate­gi­cally po­si­tioned with the rel­e­vant in prin­ci­ple approvals in place. The pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval of the mas­ter­plan through sec­tion 242 of the Plan­ning Act means sub­se­quent approvals – whether they be for meat pro­cess­ing or food-based tourism – will be code not im­pact as­sess­able. We have ef­fec­tively en­shrined land that can bring to life a whole range of pro­tein pro­duc­tion as­pi­ra­tions.

“I think it’s go­ing to be a grad­ual thing, it’s a beau­ti­ful prop­erty.

“We want a big com­mu­nity gar­den where peo­ple can see the pro­duce grown and eat the pro­duce in a bistro/restau­rant where food is cooked in the kitchen by lo­cal chefs and stu­dents.

“We have to crawl be­fore we can walk. Ini­tially we are go­ing to do some events, which will be our R&D for what the ul­ti­mate com­plex will look like.”

Mr Brown hopes the Brisbane Val­ley Pro­tein Precinct will help to ed­u­cate the fu­ture of the food in­dus­try.

“We want to get some trainee­ships for lo­cal stu­dents. We want to give young peo­ple in this area some hope that they can have a fu­ture in food pro­duc­tion,” he said.

“We’ve started meet­ing with schools. We want train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that ex­pose young peo­ple to the whole process.

“To show them how birds are in­te­grated – grown, eth­i­cally pro­cessed, the mar­ket­ing and sell­ing.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

BUILD­ING BUSI­NESS: Founders of Brisbane Val­ley Pro­tein, Dun­can Brown and Se­lena Gom­er­sall.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Quail from Brisbane Val­ley Pro­tein.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Brisbane Val­ley Pro­tein Precinct.

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