Milk of kindness
By Hilary Burden | September 2016
Published in The Mercury
When a family-run organic dairy near Deloraine was forced to stop producing its much loved products, it was overwhelmed by support from its local customers.
Along the bush-lined gravel drive up to Elgaar Farm pretty calves lead stress-free lives, lying with their mums under tall gum trees. The landscape is shaped to mimic the cow’s natural environment on the edges of forests. While a bucolic pastoral scene, it’s hard to believe the cows’ owners have been living on a knife-edge for two years.
The Gretschmanns, parents Joe and Antonia, and their family (5 sons, daughter and grandchildren), had been producing organic milk, cream, and cheese on the Moltema farm near Deloraine for over 20 years. Their cheese making, using traditions dating back over 600 years to Joe’s Bavarian ancestors, had earned international accolades. And, they were one of Australia’s leading organic, family-run dairy farms, renowned for milk in glass bottles delivered in old-fashioned wooden crates.
Elgaar attracted the kind of customer who not only fell in love with the quality of its cheese and the cream on their milk, but the way it was made – ethically, humanely and with passion. Eighty per cent of their products had been trucked to the mainland, selling through 140 shops, with no food safety incidents.
How the Gretschmann dairy family rode Tasmania’s culinary wave
By Helen Hayward | July 11, 2015
Published in The Australian Newspaper
Joe and Antonia Gretschmann bought Elgaar Farm soon after arriving in Tasmania from Bavaria in the early 1980s, and immediately set about converting it to an organic dairy farm.
Together with their sons and daughter, Joe runs the dairy farm from milking to distribution. He also works with the government to promote organic farming in Australia.
When Joe was born, in a farmhouse in Bavaria, the snow was deep. Founded in 1450, the family estate on which Joe grew up was so closely part of his identity that he was called ‘‘The Farmer’’ on his birth certificate.
Attack on Small-Scale Dairy in Australia
By Pam Holloway | July 10, 2015
Published on the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defence Fund website.
A premier organic dairy farm in Australia, Elgaar Farm, was nearly put out of business for reasons that had nothing to do with food safety. Local authorities shut down the farm claiming its traditional time-honored methods of dairy processing weren’t up to government standards. What happened to Elgaar Farm is yet another reason to support unregulated direct commerce between producers and consumers.
Elgaar Farm is one of Australia’s leading organic, ethical, multi-generational dairy farms with farming origins and practices dating back hundreds of years to their Bavarian roots. For almost 12 months they’ve been shut down by the local dairy authorities because they don’t fit the modern “standards” established by the commercial dairy industry in Australia.
Revered dairy hits tipping point: Funds push as European style goes sour for Tassie’s Elgaar
By Duncan Abey | June 8, 2015
The Mercury Newspaper
MUCH-loved Tasmanian cheesemaker Elgaar is a traditional dairy operation banking on a very modern form of capital-raising to stay afloat.
Owner Joe Gretschmann said his company, which was forced to stop production last year because of what he termed an administrative error, had turned to online crowd-funding in order to raise the $100,000 needed for urgent upgrades at its Deloraine factory to help it meet government standards.
While stressing that Elgaar’s traditional methods of milk and cheese production had never posed any health risks to its customers, Mr Gretschmann said the European approach the company pursued had put in on the authorities’ radar.
“We seem to be a high-risk operation to them because we have returnable glass bottles, and a factory which is built from bricks and that has a wooden ceiling and tiled floor,” he said.
“But four out of five factories in France look like ours, and almost that many in Switzerland and Bavaria.
Milk in the veins
By Helen Cushing | August 2, 2011
Published in Organic Gardener Magazine.
Elgaar Farm is a pioneering family dairy and cropping farm that has been paving the way in organic and sustainable practices for almost 25 years. HELEN CUSHING visits this Tasmanian treasure.
“We have a holiday on the farm every day,” says hard-working organic farmer Josef Gretschmann with a broad smile. Milking 300 cows a day, raising six children, operating an award-winning dairy factory and growing 50 hectares of grains is not what most people call a holiday. However, Joe and his wife, Antonia, are not like most people, and their farm is not like most farms. Elgaar Farm, tucked away down a back road in northern Tasmania’s rich dairying country, is an iconic organic brand in southern Australia, which cannot meet the demand for its products.