Local Scene with Kay Tommerup

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

How did you and Mr Tommerup meet?

Dave & I met at the Rathdowney dance, 24 years ago! I was 17 years old and regularly came to the country dances on my own from home at Capalaba. I had grown up going to the dances with my family; a blanket under the benches was my bed on most Saturday nights as a little girl, while my parents danced the night away. On this occasion, Dave & I were introduced by my cousin, whom I had come to the dance with that night. I always thought I would marry a country boy, despite living at Capalaba and working in an office in Brisbane. Just something about those working man hands! Dave was so shy when we first met and I’m constantly amazed by how easily he chats to our visitors now. Dave & I just clicked from the moment we met. To be able to live and work together every day on this amazing property with our kids is a privileged way to live our lives.

When did the farm first open?

Dave’s ancestors were the first selectors of this property and its been in the family since 1874. Our children are the 6th generation of this family to live on this beautiful property and Dave & I are so proud to be able to share our farm and the family history with our visitors, whilst preserving the property for our children. Our farm-stay houses were built in 1888, so for guests staying on the farm, they are able to really immerse themselves in the history of the farm and Dave’s family’s life here.

What is Tommerup’s Dairy Farm?

Tommerup’s Dairy Farm is a working dairy farm, albeit a micro dairy, that also offers farm stay accommodation and a truly unique paddock to plate experience for our guests. From the milking and the daily feeding routine, our guests are able to experience what’s it’s like to be dairy farmers. Dave & I involve our guests in the activities, share stories of the family history and also give a very personal insight into why and how we do what we do. We feel it’s really important to connect with our guests and hopefully, through that connection, they will see a higher value in the farming industry. With only 2 farm stay houses on our property, we can still offer very personal service and a really genuine farm experience. Our guests are also able to purchase produce directly from our farm through our Farm Larder. We stock our pasture raised veal, milk-fed pork, grass-fed lamb, open range eggs and soon, our new range of dairy products handcrafted right here on the farm will also be available to our guests.

What does it mean to you to be part of Eat Local Week and Eat Local Scenic Rim and how does it benefit you?

We open our farm to visitors during Eat Local Week and I love watching families just enjoy being here. They just soak up everything about the farm. They want to know all about our lives, our animals and our farm produce. I always say it’s a backstage pass to our farm and it truly is. It’s a day where visitors can explore and enjoy our farm whilst learning all about farm life. Eat Local Week has helped us to have confidence in our farm produce. We’ve developed working relationships with a number of people in the food industry and through these relationships, we’ve been able to diversify our business further and add greater value to our products. The whole Eat Local movement is such a boost for producers who choose to be part of it. There’s a real sense of pride within the group, not only for our own products but for other producers and the region itself. I believe Eat Local will continue to grow as more producers realise the value of joining in and the general public sees a higher value in knowing where their food comes from. It’s an exciting time for food producers in the Scenic Rim and we’re very proud to be part of Eat Local Week and Eat Local Scenic Rim.

How important is it to you that Tommerups is a family run business?

The history of this family property guides us in all our decisions for the farm and our family. We discuss all of our business decisions and have done since they were quite young. We’ve always felt that we’re a team and every big decision is going to have an effect on everyone in the team. I think our kids are quite mature for their age and have learnt so much already about running a business and working hard to achieve your dreams. Our aim is to leave this property in a better state both financially and environmentally for our children to carry it on in whatever way they aspire to. The possibilities are endless and we hope that we’ve shown them that anything is possible if you truly believe in it. It doesn’t matter if they choose not to carry on the dairy, so long as they choose something they love – we hope they will enjoy raising their families here as much as we have.

Any big plans for the farm in the future?

Our next big project is the development of our own on-farm Creamery. We are proud to supply Norco and will continue to do so, but are looking forward to making our own unique dairy products right here on the farm. You can be sure that the products will reflect the history of our farm and the quality we strive for in all that we do. It’s been something we’ve talked about for a long time and although we’ve been very lucky to have had cheese made for us by some very talented cheesemakers in the past. We’re really looking forward to our products being handcrafted here on the family property. I’m able to bring in some of the skills I learnt from my family for this project and I’m excited that this project will meld my family history and Dave’s as well. Keeping the dairy viable for the future is important to our family and I’m proud to be a dairy farmer. It’s something I feel really passionate about and knowing that we’re creating an appropriate value for the work that goes into producing our milk is really important to me.

What does an average day look like for you?

My ‘office’ is a pretty spectacular place and I love what I do. My work day usually starts around 6am with office work and then outside to feed the menagerie of animals when Dave arrives back from the dairy with the milk for the calves, lambs and pigs. Feeding usually takes around an hour or so depending on how caught up I get chatting to the animals or trying to get that perfect Insta photo. When guests are here, the feeding routine can take up to 3 hours, but it’s lovely to be able to share that time and let the guests experience the joy of working on a farm. At the moment, I’m also doing a lot of experimenting with dairy products, so that now forms part of my regular routine too. If Dave needs a hand with farm jobs, I’m his willing helper and I share days with Harry, our son, to help Dave at the dairy when we have guests. By late afternoon it’s back to the bottle feeding time again. I usually end up back in the office after feeding and in between cooking dinner. My workday generally finishes with office work taking up my time until around 10pm. We usually take 4 days holiday each year but we’re trying really hard this year to ‘get a life’. Striking a work-life balance with 3 different businesses rolled into one is something that we struggle with constantly, but I love what I do and honestly, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

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