Katrina and Sam Sparke from Redleaf farm in Fitzroy Falls are committed to farming animals that are treated with respect, from the moment they are born to the moment they arrive on the table. Producing chemical-free pork, beef and lamb, Katrina and Sam are supported by supported a slew of hatted chefs who advocate the same strong connection to food that Katrina and Sam also embrace.
On Redleaf farm, animals are grazed rotationally, creating an ecology in which the differing behaviours of their animals feed into one another and the environment. “All the animals graze quite differently, so once the cows have finished with the grass, the sheep can chew it much lower, and then the pigs want the roots and turn over the entire lot,” explains Katrina. “By moving animals into different paddocks at different times, you can maximise your use of the grass and have it turned over and fertilised for re-sowing.”
Nurturing a natural relationship with animals and the environment is at the core of Redleaf’s philosophy, and is an important part of their relationship with buyers. “It’s nice to work with chefs and butchers who appreciate our farm system,” explains Katrina. “There is a respect for animals which has been lost, that can only be bought back by understanding what goes into raising an animal. You take a life for a reason, and of that life, you respect and use every bit of it. It’s important, especially for children, to understand where food comes from.”
According to Katrina, Redleaf’s ethos also drives demand for their premium-quality products. “Once you’ve eaten this kind of pork it’s very hard to eat chemical-ridden, intensively farmed pork chops. If we ate less quantity and better quality, it would solve a lot of problems.”