Micro dairying success in Kiama’s green hills
For Kel and Mahlah Grey, sometimes it’s the simple things in life that win out. One of the oldest dairy farms in New South Wales, The Pines was established in 1854 and despite spanning 70 hectares and a 150-year-old history, growth hasn’t always topped the agenda.
“We were a commercial dairy farm on a contract to supply large organisations, but financially we weren’t making enough money to keep things afloat,” explains Kel, whose family has owned the property for seven generations. “We realised that something had to change, so we stepped back and started to rethink the model. We downsized and started focusing on quality over quantity.”
Now, Kel and Mahlah use minimal processing techniques to protect the taste and structural integrity of their milk. “Minimal processing results in a really good flavour, and you can taste the distinct differences all year round,” says Kel. “In summer, the milk is sweet like the grass, but in winter, the heavier pastures make for an incredibly rich texture. There can be variations from week to week, or even day to day, depending on the weather.”
They’ve also expanded into gelato and cheesemaking, value-adding to their business and ensuring every part of the dairy production process is put to good use.
“When we took the plunge, we didn’t realise just how much interest there would be in the local community,” Mahlah says. “Chefs were calling us up, and now our products are featured on menus in restaurants and cafes. Customer loyalty has been a huge surprise and it didn’t take long before we could barely keep up with demand!”