Our modus operandi at Plenty is “Know Your Farmer” and true to our word, we are cultivating some fine friendships. One particular recipient of our affection is the team who toil and tend to Kilbilli Farm in Maryvale. After all, they’re part of the family, literally.
And then there’s the matter of the pigs… my own personal affection for the beast will no doubt imbue this piece with metaphorical drool and porcine exaltation. For many of us who call hospitality home, there is no greater lust than that we lavish on the mighty pig. Or more specifically: pork, bacon, ham, sausage; belly, hocks and trotters.
Back in December 2013 the arrival of ten rare breed, British Black pigs at Kilbilli was a very exciting new development. Not just for Jess and Kyna but also for their Plenty family back in Brisbane, licking their greedy, selfish chops in anticipation of the sweet meat to come, and the opportunity to see our first full farm to plate enterprise come to fruition.
Six months on and we are experiencing early blooms of the incredible relationship a food business can share with a farm and the farmer. Something quite wonderful happens when you cut down the number of hands your food is passed through to get to you. It is a feeling, somewhere between honourable and humbling, of doing something right by the farmer and the animal; of making a better choice.
As Jess explains: “Kilbilli Farm British Black porker and baconer pigs are bred 20km up the road on Judy Barnett’s stud property ‘Black Beauty Pigs’. We are able to work with Judy to secure a year round supply of these rare breed pigs, for growing out to supply the consumers of Plenty.
“We receive our piglets at approximately 6-7 weeks of age, as they are weaned from their mother. These pigs will stay with us until they are finished at approximately seven months of age, or approximately 70kg live weight.
“These lovely pigs are pasture reared from birth to finish. They are provided a daily morning feed of fresh barley sprouts made on farm. Their feed is supplemented in the evening with a natural cracked grain and mineral/vitamin mix for ensured protein and energy levels, without the additives. This is also backed up by the pigs natural desire to forage and ‘dig’ in the pasture.
“The barley sprouts are an excellent source of protein for these growing pigs and provide similar benefits as what wheat grass does for humans. In my opinion, the benefits of ‘green’ feed should never be compromised in the diets of any animal that would naturally forage or graze. Hence the inclusion of the barley sprouts into our grower pig and steer diets, for all year round green feed.
“We love seeing our pigs express their natural behaviours! They run, chase each other, dig in the earth with their snouts and ensure they never miss a feed, by running as a mob, ears flapping as they go.”
From the hill on Kilbilli the pigs are taken a short way down the road to Carey Bros Meat Works in Yangan. There’s no sugar-coating the reality that this is an abattoir, but it is bordered by ranges, surrounded by land, farms and the sounds of the bush.
Then it’s just around the corner to Carey Bros Butcher Shop where Mark, Brendan and the team produce our incredible ham, bacon, pork belly and Cumberland sausage. Our own Plenty Patriarch then collects the loot and transports it via our refrigerated trailer back to 284 Montague Rd. And of course from here, it graces our menu and soon, will also be available in retail packs in our fridges. Stunning pork products, from pigs we have met, touched, laughed at, enjoyed during life and, possibly, secretly shed a quiet tear for in death.
“Hope you enjoy our proudly produced pork products, raised ethically by your local team of farmers in the southern downs!” says Jess.
When you combine authentic skill with amazing ingredients, the result is always a dish far greater than the sum of its parts. Michael, Head Chef here at Plenty, proves that week by week with dishes such as pork belly with white bean puree, poached eggs, blistered tomatoes and house made focaccia.
We owe a great thanks to Jess and Kyna at the farm, Mark and the boys at the butcher and an enormous, heartfelt, belly-rumbling thanks to the pigs.
And guess what, just last month, a new mob arrived at Kilbilli…