Tasmanian dairy farmers Cheryl McCartie and Theo van Brecht are committed to sustainable practices that will benefit the environment and their farmland for generations to come.
Cheryl and Theo call Ringarooma home, a breathtaking natural setting in the state’s northeast. With a river running through the property, their farm is also home to many natural ecosystems abundant with native species and wildlife.
Cheryl and Theo share their commitment to the environment and unique ecosystems on their farm, and how they worked with Fonterra to complete a Farm Environment Plan.
“We live in a great environment here. We’ve got good rainfall, there’s plenty of bush and waterways,” Cheryl said.
“When we first moved here, I started to look around and think, what are we going to do to protect some of these natural assets?”
Hailing from New Zealand, the couple moved to Tasmania with a dream to purchase their own farm.
“We thought, we can't afford to buy land in New Zealand. We looked around the rest of the world and we saw Tassie, and we thought this is the place to go," Theo said.
After settling in Tasmania, Cheryl and Theo started out share farming, and went on to purchase their Ringarooma farm 25 years ago.
They began their sustainability journey when they saw the potential impact to the natural ecosystems on their farm.
"We have a big river running down through the back of our place, so we need to make sure there's no leaching or anything else going into our pristine rivers," Theo said.
With a successful grant application, they made their first investment of $5,000 towards improving their effluent system.
"The work on the effluent system started us on a journey of actually seeing the benefit of small investments in environmental work on the farm," Cheryl said.
"Once we started on that journey, it opened our eyes to what else we could do," she added.
Another step Cheryl and Theo took was to complete a Farm Environment Plan. With support from Fonterra’s Farm Source team in northern Tasmania, they worked through a tailored plan looking at their strengths and identifying focus areas to improve performance and create greater efficiencies.
“It was really easy to step into the Farm Environment Plan because we could demonstrate the practicalities of some of the things that we’d done, and how easy it was,” Cheryl said.
“We could also see how it was paying off from a profit point of view in our business,” she added.
Fonterra introduced Farm Environment Plans last year to support farmers on its sustainability journey, and now more than one third of its suppliers have completed one.
Fonterra Farm Source Area Managers, Alison Hall and Sam Flight, with Theo van Brecht and his grandson, Max, on their Ringarooma dairy farm, northeast Tasmania.
Cheryl and Theo farm closely with their family, including their daughter Shaelyn and grandson Max. From left to right: Fonterra's Sam Flight, Cheryl McCartie, Shaelyn Rockcliff, Max Rockcliff, Fonterra's Alison Hall, and Theo van Brecht.
Fonterra's Farm Source Area Manager Alison Hall helped deliver Cheryl and Theo’s Farm Environment Plan, which validated the great processes they already had in place on farm.
“In Cheryl and Theo’s case, the outcome of their Farm Environment Plan confirmed they’re on the right track," Alison said.
"They’re aligned with industry standards and best-practice, and the investments they’ve made are the right ones.
“The best part is knowing the way they farm is having a positive impact on the environment, and any further actions they take will continue to improve their business,” she added.