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From farm to fork

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When Brad Alp’s grandfather Gordon Alp first began farming Wakedale Farm back in the 1940’s, there’s no doubt his family and farm workers would have enjoyed plenty of home-grown sheep meat after a hard day’s work on the land. Back when they cleared and developed the fledgling grazing property in Beermullah post -war commodities such as meat were in high demand – and eating meat raised on your own property was par for the course.

Fast forward 80 years to our mixed-up modern world and tracing the origin of the meat we eat has become a complex task – even for us here in the Northern Valleys region, where 41% of the state’s agricultural production takes place. Beef, lamb, chicken and pork are all reared in the shires of Chittering, Gingin, Dandaragan and Moora surrounding us, yet we’re hard-pressed to connect the paddock where it’s grown with the food on our plates.

But things are changing – and for the better. Consumers are showing more interest – not just the origin of their food, but also its carbon footprint. It’s a trend which Gingin Premium Meats Manager Courtney Fewster has been quick to realise.

“We had our first lot of Wakedale Lamb through the shop last Spring and were thrilled with the quality. Brad is clearly passionate about farming and this shows in the consistency of the product, always within the perfect weight and fat parameters. Sticking with our ‘farm to fork’ philosophy we see the lambs in the yards, onto the truck that Dad drives and a couple of days later the chops are in the shop chillers ready for the customer to buy. Same can be said for our shop neighbours, the Greenwell family, at Bullrush Farm who are currently supplying us with some beautiful grain-finished beef.”

The collaboration with Gingin Premium Meats has brought the Alps back full circle, and now third generation farmer Brad, his wife Jess and their two children Katie 4 and Scott, 2, are happy consumers of their own end product – as well as being able to share their wares with the local community.

“We don’t often get the chance to hear from people how the meat turned out,” says Jess. “Now we can go into the butcher shop and see it laid out and get some customer feedback. It’s a good product and we are proud of what we have produced.”
Brad works the massive 3100-acre property at Beermullah alongside his father Ron, as well as another family property further north in Badgingarra. Together they run 2200 breeding ewes, approximately half Merino and half Merino Border Leister cross, and 350 Blank Angus cattle. Extra workers join the family at busy times, including students from the International Rural Exchange program, which offers rural placements on Australian farms.

Brad learned the art of farming following his Dad’s footsteps through the sheep yards, but is constantly extending his knowledge and keen to implement new ideas – particularly around regenerative farming. His wife Jess, who studied at Muresk Agricultural College, brings her own skill set to the family business.

“I grew up on an avocado farm in Neerabup,” says Jess. “Farming is a part of who I am.” The couple enjoy the opportunity of working together every day although Brad jokes, “What’s said in the sheep yards, stay’s in the sheep yards!”

With the fourth generation of Wakedale Farmers following close behind, Brad and Jess are keen to keep improving farming practices.
“It would be nice to leave the farm better than we found it,” says Jess. “There are not many jobs where you can work your whole life and see the difference over time!”

Like many modern farmers, Brad is a keen follower of Twitter, and he likes the philosophy of Australian Sheep consultant Jason Trompf… “Spend 4 days a year off farm learning, try 4 new things and take 4 weeks holiday!”

“It’s a great idea,” says Jess, “We’re just working on fitting in the 4 weeks holiday!”

You can enjoy fresh lamb direct from the Alp’s farm by shopping at Gingin Premium Meats in Gingin or get it delivered when you order from the website www.ginginpremiummeats.com.au. Not only will you know exactly where your meal has come from, you’ll enjoy knowing its low food miles makes it an extremely sustainable choice.