Vaughn Schultz might be a qualified architect, but chasing the simple life found him fleeing city lights to return to the Bergen farm his great grandfather established.
A fourth generation farmer with Schultz Family Farms, Vaughn’s family legacy is famed for producing quality meats, adopting non-intensive traditional methods to raise their animals. The family has certainly found their niche, being awarded Gold in the From the Paddock category at the Delicious Produce Awards in 2017 and 2018 for their whole suckling pigs.
Vaughn and wife Jade moved back home to the Darling Downs after living the cosmopolitan life in Brisbane, with sights set on raising a family with a connection to the land. “We’re both passionate about living the simple life, going back to basics and trying to become self sufficient,” says Vaughn. “We are conscious of the origin of our food, so we wanted to establish ourselves to live an independent life and take control of that.”
Taking over from his father, Vaughn realised being a small producer in a sea of agriculture made it difficult to compete with the colossal ranches built for commercial production so he created his own league, growing heirloom varieties, forest greens and stinging nettles that most suppliers had abandoned due to lack of demand. The farm now works closely with its community of chefs to cultivate bespoke harvests. “We like to experiment with them. Sometimes they’re successful; sometimes they’re not. But that’s our niche; we can involve them in the process and it’s a journey that we can do together.”
Vaughn is motivated by the cuisiniers who visit him on the farm, picking their own produce by hand, and boasting a genuine care for sourcing the nuts and bolts of their dishes. “When you see the passion these chefs have in collecting their ingredients, that’s inspiring in itself. The energy from the chefs from holding a flower they haven’t used before … it’s a big motivator and it rubs off on you. We work hard every day trying to match their enthusiasm.”
Rooftop restaurant George Banks has joined the Schultz family. The fine dining establishment is new to the Toowoomba area. “They’re seeking their produce right from the source, which is a pretty unique thing. They take a lot of pride in discovering and revealing new products that they access as well championing farmers like ourselves. It’s a small scene as you can imagine.”
But for Vaughn, it is not about the dollar. He enjoys his animals, giving them the care he would want himself. “We are an option for people seeking a better way and a different way. It’s not necessarily about economical gains; it’s about understanding the process and having full knowledge of the complete chain right back to the start.”
From “one of the best food bowls on Earth” comes the Schultz family’s humble perspective on life. Despite challenging times of late, each year they pick up their chin, put the grain in the ground, and cross their fingers and with a wealth of knowledge passed down for generations, there is no doubt that grain will keep on growing for many moons to come.
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