Business thrives after crisis hits farming family hard
WHEN the farm finance crisis hit the Kenyons were left with 60 days' notice to leave their property, a truck, a gooseneck trailer, a few horses and a couple of dogs, now they run a thriving business in Moffatdale.
Five years on from the crisis, Tina and Clinton Kenyon bought an old Moffatdale winery and created the Hidden Gold Homestead.
"We opened the doors to Hidden Gold Homestead in March 2018, and our first year has been wonderful, and of course a big learning curve," she said.
"There have been as many exciting times as there have been challenges, and we have learnt and grown through them all, we love being in business as a family and can't wait for what the future holds."
The homestead is an agritourism business and provides the family with a means of connecting city people with the country and educating them on the paddock to plate process, healthy living, sustainable farming, and helping to forge better relationships between farmers and consumers.
"We love having our own business again and being able to make the decisions that feel right to us, being in business allows us to be really involved with the community, and pushes me to get out there and network," Mrs Kenyon said.
Seven years ago, before the farm finance crisis, the farming couple lived on their Kingaroy property and ran their first business.
"Despite how our last business ended, we will be forever proud of what we did with our farm and butcher shop," Mrs Kenyon said.
After running her own admin and bookkeeping services for farmers and South Burnett businesses, Mrs Kenyon and her husband discovered the huge opportunity for them to market their own beef.
They took up the lease of the Wooroolin butcher shop, which allowed them to further market and sell their beef, as well as other meats and produce from the region.
They attended Sunshine Coast farmers markets and learned customers wanted to not only receive good quality, locally produced food, but also know the meat was ethically produced with low environmental impact in a nurturing way.
"We set about changing the entire way we farmed - from breeding, feeding and production - to align with the needs and wants of our customers, and in turn our environment," Mrs Kenyon said.
"We took the cattle off grain and produced natural grassfed beef, this was not an easy process as the farm didn't really lend itself to grassfed cattle."
They employed five full-time staff at the butcher shop and Mr Kenyon attended at least four farmers markets a week for around three years.
"Awareness around grassfed beef and clean farming was low back in those days so the local support mainly came from us providing a high quality beef product," Mrs Kenyon said.
Mr and Mrs Kenyon were one of many farming families impacted by the farm finance crisis that saw many farmers across Australia lose their properties, despite never missing a mortgage payment.
One day they were given 60 days' notice to leave the property.
"With two children, nowhere to go and our income stream destroyed, we were pretty stressed," Mrs Kenyon said.
Mr Kenyon had some experience as a farrier and training backpackers farm skills, so the family drove to Childers to manage a training farm.
Working at the backpacker farm fuelled their motivation to work for themselves again, and they starting saving for their future business venture and took the opportunity to buy the Moffatdale winery.
In amongst starting up the homestead business, the couple have raised three kids.
"Over the past few years I have really come to terms with being kind to myself as a working mother," she said.
"It is easy to get 'mother's guilt' and be hard on yourself, however I have learnt to give myself a break and realise that I am doing my best and my kids are loved."
Visitors at the Hidden Gold Homestead can stay for a day, or for longer at the onsite B&B cottage or lakeside camping sites that back onto Bjelke-Petersen Dam.
Their restaurant has become very busy with woodfired pizzas once a week and a steady flow of customers over the weekends.