Siblings, Carl and Aimee Young, and their partners, Jasmine and Simon, are Young Farmers, a family-owned, paddock-to-plate business founded in 2014. The Young Farmers are, indeed, young farmers, who specialise in 100% grass-fed beef, grown on the Young family farm and on neighbouring farms in the Scenic Rim. The farm is nestled in the picturesque countryside of Hillview, about a half-hour from the township of Beaudesert. Young Farmers are driven to make ethically raised, pasture-fed beef more available to people living in the city, and to encourage people to care about the provenance of their food. They are also passionate about nose-to-tail eating. Carl and Jasmine live in the Scenic Rim, while Aimee and Simon live in Brisbane and regularly make the drive out to the farm. Young Farmers sell their high quality beef products through markets in Brisbane and online. (www.youngfarmers.co)
CARL & AIMEE YOUNG, SIMON HARRADENCE & JASMINE BANKS
Tell us about Young Farmers.
AIMEE: We started twelve months ago. I’ve always had a small herd of cattle on Mum’s property, and I had one cow left. Mum said, ‘You know, you’re never here any more. Get rid of the cow.’ So, we went to sell it at the cattle sales, but the prices were rubbish. So we decided to process it and butcher it ourselves, and just enjoy having our own produce and eating it at home. And we gave it to friends: we split up it, gave everyone a share and everyone loved it. They were like, ‘When are you doing it again?’ Then we started getting calls from their neighbours — our friends’ neighbours — saying, ‘Oh, I’ve heard you’re butchering your own cattle. Can you tell us when you are doing it next time and we’ll buy a box?’ It just happened like that at the start. We thought, ‘This is great. People want to have a connection with their produce and their farmers, and know where their food comes from. And why can’t we be the ones that connect them with that?’
Do you live on this property, Carl?
CARL: I used to. I run cattle on a few different agistment properties, and now we’re starting to use our own cattle to supply the business. That’s the goal: we want to have all of our own cattle coming through. That way we control the quality a lot better because I manage them from birth right through.
SIMON: And that ensures the beef is traceable as well. There are lots of people selling beef. We sell at the markets and there’s someone else there selling beef for half the price. But people still buy from us, and a big reason for it is that people care about where it is from. So, by producing it ourselves, which is what we’re doing now, we can actually, unequivocally say where it is from — it has been 100% grass-fed raised and it has been treated nicely its whole life.
Do you think people these days care more about where their food comes from?
CARL: I think it is a growing concern, yes.
SIMON: I actually think that — maybe not in our lifetime — it will become more important to people to know exactly where their food has come from. People who can afford to pay a little bit more for their beef are choosing to buy from people like us because they want to know where it is from.
CARL: We are handling the process the whole way through. Even though we’re not butchers, we’re overseeing the whole process. It is being done in a special way. And we’re trying to use a lot of ingredients from this area, trying to keep it in the Scenic Rim.
So, how and where do you market your product?
AIMEE: Our main marketing has come from gyms, and that is because they tend to be a health-conscious market. They want 100% grass-fed beef; they want to know their cattle is local and the omega-3 content is higher — all of that. So, that’s where it really stemmed from, in the beginning.
SIMON: The markets have been another source, and more and more some of the small cafes, where they’ve started with the best intentions of wanting to provide locally sourced food.
Have you enough to supply the market?
CARL: No. That’s why we’re trying to ramp up things at my end — get more country and more cattle. It is taking off. I’m lucky I’ve lived and worked in this area my whole life, in this industry. I have some really good contacts, people wanting to help us and give us their best cattle to put through the process.
AIMEE: Carl is choosing cattle that fit our criteria from other farms. They need to be 100% grass-fed.
CARL: I select them. I go to the farmers’ yards, go through them and pick out the better ones.
How does Paleo come into it?
AIMEE: I think Paleo people love it, although we don’t really push the Paleo thing. We push the ‘just eat real food’ thing. Our sausages are Paleo. They are gluten-free, everything-free. Butchers were saying they have this beautiful gluten-free mix to put in the sausages. I had a look at the packet, and it has about 100 different ingredients — all these preservatives, corn starch, potato starch … It is just ridiculous.
So what do you put in your sausages?
AIMEE: Just beef, fat and sea salt in a natural casing. That’s our best seller — the BBQ sausage.
How do people buy your product?
AIMEE: Through the website or markets. We also do a wild tomato sausage — tomatoes, sea salt, chilli and garlic … just the herbs and the ingredients, such as the tomatoes and the beef.
JASMINE: We’re brainstorming at the moment with ideas, trying to get a special each month.
AIMEE: We have done a sage, chilli and shiraz sausage, and we want to use Tamborine Mountain wines and Albert River. We live down the road from Albert River Wines and go there often. And our rissoles are actually bound with almond meal.
Where did you grow up?
CARL: Aimee and I grew up in the Scenic Rim. I bought my first cattle when I was ten.
AIMEE: We grew up on a chicken farm in Gleneagle, but we’ve always had cattle and horses. I think Grandpa gave us our first cow each — Blonde Aquitane. We were able to see the herd and pick it out ourselves. I wanted to make sure mine had a calf, and a calf in it. I was like, ‘Three for one!’
Tell us about an average day.
CARL: Anything could happen, that’s the thing. Anything can happen when you’re dealing with animals. It varies. At the moment, because we’re a new business, we have a meeting once a week, the four of us. We’re always talking about where the business is going and what we need to do to make things happen. We’re still in the start-up phase, if you know what I mean. So, it is crazy, but we’ll get there and everything will be set up and run quite smoothly, we hope.
Do you each have a job description?
CARL: We each have an area in the business, and each of us is really suited to that area.
JASMINE: We all have different strengths. Carl is our Chief Executive Farmer and I am the Administration Guru. I am very organised and I’ve been in banking for ten years, so I’ll also look at running the accounts.
AIMEE: Which is great, because I can’t do that. I am the PR, I guess, and Simon is the King Strategist.
What are the best things about the lifestyle?
SIMON: Coming out to the country to see family, which we would do anyway. I am not from the country, but we’d love to be here, whether we visit regularly — say, each week — or move here one day. So, starting this business is getting us a step closer.
JASMINE: Well, that happened with me. I came down one weekend, met Carl, quit my job, left the city and moved to the country. It was actually how it happened. It is great. I love it. I didn’t ever want to leave. That’s why I moved out here.
CARL: We just love the lifestyle. The space. Not having people everywhere is good. So, I think we all aim to have a farm, our own property, whether we jointly own it or … I know I am going to work until I die to get it. I want to have my own land. That’s the good thing about this business, too: hopefully it gets us some of the way there.
Is there anything you’d like to tell us?
CARL: From the cattle point-of-view, we use as few chemicals as we can, but being close to the coast … The ticks. It would be inhumane … Well, actually, the cows would die, so I have to use chemicals every now and again. But they are never in the meat when it goes to the processor and I use as few as I can. I do a bit of rotation with the cattle as well, to keep them on fresh pasture. By doing a rotational graze you eliminate some of the parasites. You’re controlling the parasites somewhat via your management.
How did you learn to farm cattle?
CARL: I’ve worked everywhere with cattle: Western Australia, New South Wales … I did agricultural science, and I just love cattle. I’ve had stud cattle, I’ve managed other people’s stud cattle, I’ve had show steers and I’ve put steers in Rockhampton Beef Week. I’ve just been obsessed with cattle since I was a kid.
AIMEE: He lives and breathes it.
SIMON: It is early days. We want to make the business profitable first, but one of the first things we sat down and discussed was this: Young is their surname, but the brand is also a recognition of the fact that every step of the way, the only people we’ve found who were enthusiastic about actually getting involved with the business were the younger-generation farmers. We like the idea that, at some point, when the business is profitable, we’ll send back a portion of profit to that next generation.
CARL: People like us who are young and starting out. We’d like to give a bit of the profit back, one day.