Our farmers are the heart and soul of Fleurieu Milk Company.
They are also the directors that oversee the company and try to keep everyone in line.
BARRY & MERRIDIE
Barry & Merridie Clarke are co-directors of Fleurieu Milk and owners of Roslyn Vale dairy farm. Rosyln Vale is a family owned farm, first purchased by Merridie’s grandparents back in 1926. Baz has always been a full-time dairy farmer, who first started milking cows back in 1976 with his brother who now resides in Lucindale as a beef and sheep farmer. Baz and Merridie purchased Rosyln Vale in 1993 from Merridie’s parents.
The farm is home to over 300 Jersey cows, grazing on more than 400 acres of lush green pastures. Today Baz and Merridie have three kids of their own and are also proud grandparents. Baz hopes that one day the Rosyln Vale dairy will be handed down to the family continuing the family legacy.
Baz and Merridie still find it hard to believe what was once a simple idea in 2006 has grown to become what is today. Baz says ‘our biggest challenge moving forward is not losing our originality of where we started and who got us to where we are today. It’s a little scary to now think the decisions we make as a business directly impact more than 50 odd families who work for us today’.
Have you ever wondered what an average day looks like for a dairy farmer?
We thought we’d provide you with a rare glimpse into a day in the life of one of our dedicated dairy farmers. Enjoy this rare insight into Baz’s day, (every day, 365 days a year), which normally starts while we are all tucked up in bed at 3am.
ROB & BEC
Rob & Bec are sharefarmers, who have taken over the running of Windy Vale Holsteins. Rob and Bec were share-farming in Mount Gambier and knew Geoff through the stud dairy world. When their farm went on the market, the Dairy industry was in a tough place. After a chat with Geoff mentioning a job at Windy Vale before they knew it, they had moved and were living in Myponga.
Rob & Bec worked for Geoff and Louise for nearly two years before Geoff decided he’d hang up his boots and give them the opportunity to share farm again.
Rob is a lifelong dairy farmer. A Kiwi, being born in New Zealand on a dairy farm, Rob came to Australia to work when he was 19. Bec grew up near Strathalbyn where she went to school, and after Uni Bec ended up working in Mt Gambier. This is where she met Rob on a Dairy he was managing. Rob has been milking cows since he could walk, Bec is a bit more of a newbie (only 10 years!) But is highly qualified having worked for Elders in Dairy Nutrition before stepping out from Dairy Extension into share farming.
They both love the life. ‘It’s hard work but really rewarding and a great lifestyle. We love being able to work together and with our young family, Tahlia and our much loved four-legged family member, Ruby the bulldog’.
‘We breed and show Holstein and Jersey cows as part of the farm. With Geoff and Chris continuing to expand, and also branching out into exporting embryos off farm, Rob & Bec have been lucky enough to make friends all over the world through cows’.
STEVE & INGE
Owners of Manna Springs, Steve is a 2nd generation dairy farmer whose family has lived in the Myponga area for more than 70 years. The farm was first purchased by Steve’s parents Michael and Anna in 1973. Inge and Steve meet in 1998 during Inge’s backpacking trip to South Australia. Inge left Australia that year and headed back for the Netherlands only to return not long afterwards having fallen in love with Steve.
Now, over 20 years later, they are proud parents of two teenage boys, Tom & Jack, who also help on the farm whenever possible. Steve still remembers the initial phone call from Geoff when asked if he would be happy to supply Fleurieu Milk, on the brink of giving dairy farming away Steve & Inge are now proud to contribute to South Australia’s economy and love the fact that the Fleurieu Milk Company is farmer owned.
Being part of the Fleurieu Milk Company has allowed Steve to make capital improvements on his farm which now allows him more time to spend with his family. Steve says ‘being a part of the Fleurieu Milk family gives me faith that the farming industry in Myponga has a strong future’
GINO & MANDY
Located just kilometres down the road from Fleurieu Milk, Misty Brae owners Gino and Mandy Pacitti start their day at 4.30am but always “aim to finish by 6pm, that way we get a bit of quality time to spend with family”.
After all, family is at the heart of Misty Brae’s history and present-day operations, with Gino’s parents first farming a small property after emigrating from Italy in the 1950s.
Gino & Mandy bought their first property on the outskirts of Myponga in 1964 and began dairy farming. Today, Misty Brae has swelled from 25 to 300 hectares, with Gino and Mandy leasing additional land to farm a total of 400 hectares and produce two and a half million litres of milk each year.
On the property, it seems to be heading directly for the farm’s third generation, Ashley and Andrew. Andrew’s first recollections of farm life involves “sitting on the motorbike with Dad or being on the tractor”.
IAN & NICKI
Like many farmers, for Ian Willcocks dairy farming is a family affair. Owner of Yankalilla’s Manna Farm alongside wife Nicki, Ian grew up on the 115-hectare property that he continues to farm today. He grew so fond of the family business that he and brother Peter eventually took over the farm from their parents in 1982.
For Ian’s wife Nicki, the dairy farming lifestyle came as somewhat of a culture shock after years spent working in hospitality. But, enamoured by the lush green pastures and rolling hills, it’s a lifestyle she quickly fell in love with.
Today, Manna Farm is home to 160 cows each with a name beginning with D, a tribute to the single cow that they can all be traced back to. “Every single one of the cows in the herd goes back to one particular cow from back in 1982,” explains Ian.
Likening their past experiences to feeling like a cog in a wheel, Ian and Nicki have once again found community within the dairy industry as fresh faces in the Fleurieu Milk family. Since signing on as suppliers just a few weeks ago, Nicki says, “we’re excited again, it’s a good feeling all round. It gives us a little bit more drive, makes us happier with what’s going into the vat and where it’s going”.
“It feels like family, you know everyone that’s involved” adds Ian.
ROBERT, MANDY & NICK
For Fleurieu Milk’s newest Jersey Milk supplier Robert, Mandy and Nick Brokenshire, owners of Roslyn Amdena Jerseys, the allure of life on the farm has always been intrinsically linked with family.
Counting the dairy as his closest neighbour growing up, Nick recalls “getting stuck in the mud, pushing up cows when mum and dad were milking… and just generally being amongst it on a day to day basis”. It’s a lifestyle he says doesn’t stray far from that of his own three children today.
The Brokenshire’s milk 400 Jersey cows on 800 acres of Mount Compass property. But it hasn’t always been such a large-scale production. When Robert first purchased the property about 40 years ago, he began with 150 cows on just a quarter of the acreage.
Looking to the future, Nick says the family would like to continue to grow their Fleurieu footprint in tandem with Fleurieu Milk’s ongoing success.
“We’d like to continue to grow our cow numbers and produce more beautiful Jersey milk for the state,” he says.
“And, we’d like Fleurieu Milk to be able to grow their market to help supply South Australians consumers with beautiful quality, local, fresh milk.”
EDDY, DOMENICA & NICK
Since Nick Mignanelli could walk, he’s been helping out on the family dairy farm at Hindmarsh Tiers.
“I was always in the dairy from a very young age,” Nick explains.
As tends to be the way with dairying families, it was very much all hands on deck for the Mignanellis, with Nick remembering being lovingly scolded by mum, Domenica.
“She said, ‘If you are going to stand there and do nothing you might as well put the bloody cups on!’”
Now aged 19, Nick is proud to be a third generation dairy farmer, as the son of Eddy and Domenica and the grandson of Carmine and Lydia.
Carmine was originally in partnership with his two brothers, who came out with their family from Montecasino, Italy, mid last century, to secure a better life in Australia.
The family settled in Hindmarsh Tiers, on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula, about 10 kilometres from Victor Harbor on around 575 acres of farming land they called ‘Verde Valley’ where they are currently milking 134 cows.
The Mignanelli family are “proud as punch” to be supplying milk to Fleurieu Milk Company.
MIKE & PAM
Mike and Pam run the family dairy farm – Gum Dark – on Pages Flat Road, at Myponga, milking around 140 Friesians all year round in their herringbone-style dairy. Gum Dark is a sister farm to Verde Valley at Hindmarsh Tiers, managed by Mike’s nephew Nick. Both farms are owned by Mike’s parents – and Nick’s grandparents – Carmine and Lydia Mignanelli. Before Carmine and Lydia went out on their own, Carmine was in a partnership with his two brothers. The Italian migrants made a new home on the Fleurieu, trying their hand as market gardeners in Hindmarsh Tiers before making the switch to dairy farming and purchasing additional land at Myponga.
Farming is in Mike’s blood and was on the cards since day dot. “I was driving tractors the day after I could walk, I suppose,” says Mike.
As a child, he loved watching his father and uncles fencing and carting hay. In his teenage years, Mike began driving the tractor with a sickle mower on the back. “I’d be mowing hay until lunchtime and then go and do exams,” says Mike.
Mike and Pam live on just over 100 acres located across the road from Gum Dark, in a valley overlooked by “lots of nice, big, old gum trees”.