Home' Smart Farmer : Dec 2010-Jan 2011 Contents December 2010 / January 2011
Smart farmers' markets
otating between Penola, Robe and
Keith, the Limestone Coast Food
Farmers Market has an emphasis on
selling goods from local producers directly
to the general public, creating benefits for
growers, consumers and the local commu-
The producers all share a passion for pre-
senting quality items at affordable prices.
Produce selections vary depending on the
time of year, but there are always plentiful sup-
plies of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs,
dairy produce, bakery items, smallgoods,
condiments and plants. Producers range from
large and well-established businesses to the
very small-scale backyard grower.
Limestone Coast Food Group chairperson,
Julie Thomas, runs Avenue Emus, and sells
produce at the market. She says emus are fas-
cinating and valuable birds that provide an
attractive lifestyle and a fair income.
Julie and her husband Neville farm 560
hectares at Avenue Range. Neville is in charge
of the sheep, cattle and goats, and Julie takes
control of the emu operation.
"As farmers, of course, we initially saw emus
as pests," Julie said. "But we wanted to diversi-
fy a bit, and it was in 1994 -- the very early
days of emu farming.
"We got in at just the right time, because
things like this tend not to last very long.
Many people get their fingers burnt, and only
those who are really dedicated hang around.
We hung around."
Their dedication and foresight has paid off,
with the business expanding from oil and meat
production to a thriving tourism operation.
"Emus look a bit fierce," Julie said. "But
mostly they're quite friendly and even fairly
playful, although in breeding season they can
become a bit aggressive.
"They're also extremely curious and interest-
ed in everything that's going on around them.
"You just can't help getting attached to them
-- they have such individual personalities."
The Thomases have 80 breeders, 120 year-
lings from last season and 200 chicks on the
ground, with more expected.
Although it is a fairly limited market, there is
increasing interest in emu products.
Pure emu oil is a popular for treatment of
skin conditions and muscular or joint pain.
In addition to oil, the Thomases produce a
hand and body cream incorporating emu oil
with neroli, lavender, rosewood and lemon; a
facial moisturiser; and a soap that contains
emu oil with a natural vegetable glycerine
Emu meat is much sought-after by an
increasing number of restaurants because it is
tasty, virtually fat-free, particularly high in iron
and low in cholesterol. The Avenue Emu web-
site includes some easy-to-prepare recipes for
The gamble Julie and Neville took in enter-
ing the emu industry has paid off.
"It's never likely to be a really big industry,"
Julie said. "But it suits us.
"We're happy we started when we did, and
we'll be sticking with it."
The next Limestone Coast Food Farmers
Market will be held at Penola in The Park on
December 19, with the following two at Robe
on December 27 and January 2, in the Robe
Institute opposite the foreshore.
• Need to know more?
A bird in the hand...
Julie Thomas has developed Avenue Emus into a thriving farming and tourism business.
The Limestone Coast Food Farmers Market could justifiably be
described as a 'moveable feast,' as JULIE PAUL reports.
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