Faces of the Wheatbelt
March 15, 2017 at 9:09 AM
From little things…
Three Wheatbelt farmers grow an ancient superfood creating a start up business from the ground up.
Take a tiny edible seed from South America and grow it commercially in WA’s Wheatbelt.
This is the origin of Three Farmers Quinoa, a locally grown superfood brand with great nutritional benefits.
Megan Gooding says it was fortuitous back in 2010 that as she started looking for new crops to grow on her Dumbleyung farm, nearby Narrogin farmer Ashley Wiese and agronomist Garren Knell were experimenting with small trials of quinoa.
The trio then pooled their considerable agricultural talents to form Australian Grown Superfoods Pty Ltd.
After years of trials and experimenting Three Farmers Quinoa produces a chemical free quinoa seed that is popular as a gluten free health food, with a low Glycaemic Index (GI).
Megan says growing quinoa has not been an easy process, “One of the biggest challenges is the agronomy as it’s a difficult crop to grow. It’s not like wheat or barley which have a huge amount of breeding and agronomy knowledge behind them”.
“Different climatic conditions affect the crop differently which is why we contract about 20 growers from Esperance to Kununurra to help us produce the best quality seed we can,” Megan explained.
The locally grown quinoa has a nuttier flavour than the imported product, an aspect that is proving popular amongst WA restaurateurs and consumers Australia wide.
Megan believes they are still in the initial expansion phase of the business but the future looks bright.
“As anyone knows in a start up business, first, you have to know how to produce or grow your product, then you have to learn how to process it and then you need to be able to market it successfully,” she said.
A $500,000 grant from Coles Supermarkets has really boosted the processing along with a purpose built cleaning and packaging facility now operating on Ashley Wiese’s farm.
“Coles has been fantastic to us and they have been supportive of us getting an Australian grown product onto their shelves to replace imports,” Megan said.
With Three Farmers Quinoa stocked in Coles and other supermarket chains across the country and plans to expand into Three Farmers Oats, Australian Grown Superfoods is a Wheatbelt success story. Their agricultural ingenuity and excellence in business development and marketing have positioned their brand strongly in a competitive market. These three faces are driving crop diversification and building the robustness of the Wheatbelt economy.
The Faces of the Wheatbelt project is proudly funded by the Avon Community Development Foundation and the Wheatbelt Development Commission.
Image (Left to Right): Ashley Wiese, Megan Gooding and Garren Knell, Three Farmers Quinoa owners in a quinoa paddock, Narrogin, WA.