This partnership between a farm and a local business brings affordable meat to Australians

Robyn Verral. Source: Bully Meat.

Winner of the 2022 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, Robyn Verrall is on a mission to bring fresh, inexpensive produce to rural people through local business Kere to Country.

Living in the area and running a farm and business was a distant concept for Bully’s Meat owner Robyn Verrall, who grew up around Adelaide and spent most of her life working as a nurse before meeting her husband , Christopher Bullen.

It was when she met him in 2002 that she began her journey to running her own business, providing grass-fed, hormone-free meat delivered to customers across South Australia.

“I hosted my high school’s 20th anniversary reunion, and that’s where I reunited with Chris, who was a farmer and after five years we got married and moved to the countryside,” Verrall said.

“It was a huge shock to the system… I soon realized I was his unpaid farm laborer and had to learn how to drive all the trucks and tractors and raise animals so he could back to earth.”

Diving headfirst into a whole new way of life was a challenge, especially since they were running the farm without hired help, and Verrall had to learn quickly how to break into a male-dominated industry.

“I knew [the industry] was full of a bunch of men and it was a barrier. I put my nose where it probably shouldn’t go, but I had a lot of help along the way,” she said.

“I mean, nursing was originally dominated by male doctors. If you were lucky, you had the honor of carrying the surgeon’s ashtray. That was the kind of industry it was.

They have since lived and run their farm in Keith, originally sending canned meat to China, with Verrall accompanying the cattle on the long journey to slaughterhouses to ensure humane slaughter practices were followed.

After stopping exporting in 2017, they started looking for a new market.

After meeting Jessica Wishart, a Bidjara woman, as part of a government leadership course for which she received part of a scholarship, Wishart wondered why it was easier to transport meat to China than food. bring to regional communities.

“The prices communities had to pay for meat were almost unaffordable for First Nations families, the price of 500 grams of ground meat was $70,” Verrall said.

“She (Wishart) said, ‘What can we do about this?’ This is how Kere to Country was born.

Kere to Country, run by Jessica Wishart, Jordan Wishart and Tommy Hicks, provides fresh, affordable meat to Aboriginal communities in Alice Springs and low-income families across South Australia.

Thanks to a partnership with Bully’s Meat, they have been able to make over 100 deliveries since 2019.

Verrall also hand-delivers its meat to customers and families in need, providing an essential service to those who are food insecure and struggling to put food on the table.

“We had a lot of leftover lamb from Christmas, so I put out a call to see if anyone knew of anyone in need who could use them,” Verrall said.

“I took the meat to an aboriginal elder and told her I would put the spare lamb in her freezer. She said ‘do you give me some spare food?’

“When I opened his freezer, there was nothing in it, and it made me think, ‘what can I do to make it better?'”

For Verrall, connecting with her customers is the most important part of her business, believing her in-person deliveries have helped change perceptions of what farming really entails.

“I can meet everyone – I might only meet someone for 10 or five minutes, but I might be the only person they see that week, which was very common during the lockdowns. of COVID-19,” she said.

Winning the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award came as a complete surprise to Verrall, who said she was delighted to share the stage with finalists Lukina Lukin and Stephanie Lunn.

The $15,000 prize will be used to further support Kere to Country’s efforts.

“It was exciting, I didn’t envy the judges – there were so many amazing women!” Verral said.

“We all deserved to be where we were, it was a complete shock and it was so lovely.”

Verrall is now a finalist for the National Rural Women’s Award, which will be held at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday September 6.

This article was first published by Lead South Australia.