Moooving to greener pastures
When planning a move from northern Victoria to the north west of Tasmania, don't forget your cows.
When people think of a move to Tasmania, few pack 300 cows along with their suitcases. For Andy and Matt Jackman, this is exactly what they did when moving from northern Victoria to north west Tasmania.
For fourth generation farmer Matt Jackman and police officer wife Andy, life on their dairy farm in Victoria wasn’t easy. At the height of the drought, the Jackman’s decided they couldn’t face another dry year. They looked at the weather map and chose their new home based solely on the rainband. Settling on a patch in north west Tasmania beside the Tarkine, Australia’s largest tract of cool temperate rainforest, seemed a logical move.
In 2009, the Jackmans and their young son Harvey made the move to Tasmania. They packed up their lives and their herd of 300 cows that had been in their family for a decade. The Aussie Red herd settled in well to their new turf, 155-hectares at Oldina, just over an hours’ drive from the Spirit of Tasmania ferry terminal in Devonport.
“Funnily enough the cows were the easy part,” laughs Andy. “It was getting our stuff that was harder. But we couldn’t be happier with our move to Tasmania. We wanted to be close to Victoria where we still had 1000 acres when we moved. That was important to us, as well as a location with high rainfall.”
Having scoped the concept of cheese making in Victoria, the Jackman’s decided the time was ripe to venture into the world of artisan cheese. New to making cheese commercially, the learning curve was steep but with their Aussie reds now grazing on lush Tasmanian pastures and a hay shed transformed to a boutique cheese factory in 2012, Red Cow Organics was born.
True to their sustainable and ethical vision, from day one the Jackmans committed to organic and biodynamic practices. Moving away from conventional farming in 2010, today they tend to their soil using only biodynamic preparations and organic practices which in turn are reflected in their cheese products.
“We are committed to the whole food loop,” explains Andy. “This means that we also recycle farm nutrients and that our girls are 100% grass fed. We’ve also been certified organic since 2016. We are open to sharing the full process, so that others can understand what goes into our cheeses from the cow to the packaged product. It’s all done right here on the farm by us and we love sharing how this level of quality takes time and shifts with the seasons.”
The proud family business employs six locals including a full-time head cheese maker. Life on the farm is constant, from calving through to turning cheese two or three nights a night. The care and attention is testament to Red Cow Organic’s growing fan base and awards, their feta picking up the title of Australia’s best at the 2019 Dairy Industry Awards Australia.
Their growing range includes feta, triple cream brie, house jack, organic gruyere and tilsit. Each is unique to the market due to the highly nutritious grass that delivers such quality milk (soon to be available in glass bottles). The brie, for instance, is higher in fat and made European style, delivering a creamy full-mouth flavour distinct to the pasture. Cheese varieties are seasonal too, for instance, the Swiss Gruyere is made only when the milk fat and protein ratios are just right.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support of locals,” says Andy. “Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been really encouraged by the community and those who have actively gone out of their way to support us. We’ve done the same for others. There’s just a really great sense of community here that has kept us going, along with using additional online platforms to further our reach.”
The artisan range of cheeses is distributed across Tasmania in Hill Street Grocers and providores as well as Victoria and Queensland. Cheese enthusiasts can order from the Red Cow Organic’s website and also find the Jackman’s regularly at the Harvest Market in Launceston. But most of the time they’re on the farm where a new calf joined the family just hours ago … a new generation of Aussie red one day producing fine milk for the next wheel of triple cream brie.
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
Find out more about Red Cow Organics.
For information on starting a business in Tasmania look through our stories or visit Business Tasmania.