Meet VFF Member Claire Morgan from Rupanyup. She’s the farmer behind arguably Victoria’s best brownie and is our first farmer in our ‘Behind the Farm Gate’ series in the lead-up to National Agriculture Day on November 19.
In this series, we explore the process, passion and labour of love that goes into creating some of our State’s best farm products and the people behind the farm gate.
Q: Why did you become a farmer?
It was love that made me do it. While working in Darwin, I met my now husband David. I remember meeting David at a local bar and our conversation was very easy and like most people at the time in Darwin we were from somewhere else, working up there for the experience, lifestyle and adventure.
Our conversation quickly moved into where we were from and I remember thinking oh no not a Victorian I just left that world, hahah. I remember us talking about our childhood and farm life.
I think I dream the dream of living on a farm and marring a farmer and raising kids on the land.
David and I eventually moved back to Victoria together and married a few years later. We lived and worked on David’s family farm with his brother and parents.
It was about six years in with two kids and another on the way we realised there wasn’t going to be enough room for us all on the one farm. David and I with adventure and determination at our age were ready to make our mark, we finally found the farm that suited us and made the move to Rupanyup on a broad acer cropping farm.
As hard as it was to move to a new unfamiliar community, we all knew this path was in the best interest for the family business and everyone involved. It was our time.
Once we moved up to Rupanyup, even though we had David’s family support we had the feeling of isolation and it was sink or swim. We had to make this work and we haven’t stopped work.
We don’t have family members to help make decisions, but we know they are only a phone call away. We have a fantastic agronomist that has taught us a lot about farming in the Wimmera.
He was doing the agronomy on the farm when we purchased it, so it made sense to continue his services.
I’m so pleased we worked well together, it’s nice to be building our farm business from scratch with David.
If I hadn’t met David I would have moved from Darwin and worked on a cattle station. This was another dream. And after traveling through the Kimberley, I loved the landscape and remoteness.
Q: What makes your product so special?
Our brownies and blondies products are an extension of our farm and adding value to what we grow on the farm and in the broader Wimmera/ Mallee region of Victoria.
It’s special because it’s bringing people to our town to taste the flavour of Rupanyup.
The paddock to plate journey is one we love to follow with our produce we grow. We are in full control of every step taken to produce the decadent flour brownies and blondies. It’s lovely to meet so many people through our products and we enjoy the connections and conversation and food production.
Chickpeas go in almost every dish now. When we moved here, I had hardly cooked with chickpeas.
I’ve created the basic brownie and blondie recipe but I love to get creative and I encourage our customers to put their mark on our product. Make it their own by adding nuts or berries ice cream.
I’ve recently made a black forest cake with our mix and it was amazing. I also make a great salad with chickpeas, pumpkin, pine nuts and rocket.
It’s great to hear customer’s feedback.
Q: The Wimmera can be a harsh landscape at times. How do you combat the challenges of climate change?
There’s a number of tools we use on our farm. We catch water off all our haysheds to use on the farm, retain stubbles in the paddock to retain moisture to help improve soil health and prevent erosion, control traffic to minimise compaction and utilis technology to record farm data.
Q: Tell us what makes your produce unique?
Celebrating quality local produce is my passion, and these chickpea flour brownies do just that. I created this recipe to showcase what we grow in Rupanyup and to give people more reasons to visit our town and taste our decadent treat in our store at Rupanyup Living.
The irresistible mix contains chickpea flour which is naturally gluten free. Our chickpeas are grown on the farm in the surrounding areas, so you will be buying local. They’re a feel-good treat in every way.
You can shop our brownies at Rupanyup Living on our online store and nothing beats a visit to the store to meet the maker and enjoy a chat.
We are ready to scale the business. We would like to see our product in every hamper across Australia and in every café, provedore and winery in our region.
To see it offered in cafés and restaurants in the big city would be amazing. To cook with a chef and create something for their menu would be a wonderful experience.
Our product is helping build a bridge, we are bringing city and rural people closer together.
I love how simple it really is and something I’m so very passionate about.