At the end of 2013 Melissa and Donovan Jacka and their two children Mackenzie and Harvey decided to leave their comfortable inner city lives in pursuit of a better way of living. They packed up and moved to Tarrawingee in NE Victoria to set up a small goat dairy cheese factory.
The family have converted an original1850s stone building on their property into a cheese manufacturing and packing space that includes a a 35sq m“cheese cave” in the cellar below.
Their farm includes an eight-stand dairy and they are currently building a farm gate tasting and sales area.
The backbone of the operation is a herd of 50 Saanen dairy goats and a cheese factory that can process up to 300 litres of fresh goat milk per day into small batches of hand-made, specialist cheeses.
Melissa: “From the get-go we have planned for this to be a lifestyle business for us and we don’t want to get into something that’s huge and out of control. We want a hard life but a good life, hopefully making beautiful products for people.”
Both Donovan and Melissa spent about a decade working for unions in media and health so it is no accident they have named their 50ha property Tolpuddle Farm.
The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of English agricultural labourers who started a “friendly society” in the 1830s to call for better wages.
After being arrested for unlawful assembly, the six leaders were found guilty of “administering unlawful oaths” and transported to NSW.
The convictions were later overturned but their actions have long been recognised as paving the way for trade unions and the protection of employees’ rights.
“Their story taught me a lot about the simplest form of unionism,” Donovan said.
“It went back to the most basic reason people work, which is to provide a better life for their families and to put food on the table."
“We turned up at this property, which was built at a time when labourers would craft things with their own hands and saw something that resonated. I don’t think there is a more noble profession than getting a product from an animal and making it into something beautiful.”
(Reproduced from The Weekly Times Feb 27, 2015)