THE romance began over a wheel of cheese and from there it has leapt to a dairy goat farm with an on-farm cheesery.
By: ROGER HANSON
Iain and Kate Field met while students at the University of Tasmania and knew they had the chemistry when they bonded over brie.
Twenty years later their love of cheese is driving their work at Leap Farm, where they use organic principles in dairy farming and cheese making.
Their operation at Copping, near Bream Creek, is the new home of Tongola Cheese.
Neither had any farming experience before they bought the property in 2012.
The 107ha farm, on the side of a hill with views of the valley and Marion Bay, also runs about 80 poll hereford-red angus cattle and they sell their pasture-fed, hormone-free beef directly to the public.
The Fields run a dairy goat herd of about 200 swiss toggenburg goats, milking about 50 goats with 150 in the paddock. They make five cheeses: curdy, capris, bloom, billy and zoe.
Kate, works three days a week as an emergency specialist doctor at the Royal Hobart Hospital, while Iain, an ecologist, manages the farm and makes the fine premium cheese.
The Fields have two children, Hamish, 3, and 18-month-old Zoe.
“We were living in Sydney, and we wondered what were we doing, we felt like rural people trapped in the city, we always wanted to be farmers,” Dr Field said.
“So we decided to do it. We bought the farm and started farming. We knew it would be hard work, and it is incredibly hard work, But we love it. It’s a way of life we enjoy.”
Dr Field said Tasmania has built and developed on its brand of artisan foods, but the next step of getting that premium food into shops was a major hurdle.
“We do all our own distribution, so we can make enough money to keep going. So it’s important for people to heed the call if they want this type of premium artisan food to support us and ask for it in their local shops.”
Leap Farm’s range of Tongola cheeses are sold at Bream Creek Farmers Market, Bruny Island Cheese retail outlet, Truckle and Co, Wursthaus and Hill Street Grocer’s West Hobart store.
“We’re getting great support from top-end local restaurants, who really value the quality of the premium cheese,” Dr Field said.
“The demand is there.”
Mr Field said Tasmanian food culture has changed and the artisan culture has really developed in recent years.
“It has really blossomed and so has demand, now the challenge is getting that product into local retail and available to consumers who are demanding it.”
Mr Field, who has also worked in natural resource management, said he is still learning and studying farming.
“I really enjoy and love cheese making. I love the passion others have for our cheese,” he said.