Published on November 24, 2021
With over 40 head of beef cattle running on the HVGS Farm, it is clear why there is a need to maximise this fantastic facility’s educational and economic potential.
Since the start of the HVGS Agriculture program five years ago, there has always been the focus that agricultural systems cannot be an isolated unit, and with our senior agriculture classes studying topics such as vertical integration and value, adding the need for marketing our product was only a matter of time.
The origin and benefits of paddock to plate
Over the past year, the plan to create a paddock to plate relationship with the School’s Treetops Restaurant, has developed from more than an idea conceived by Farm Manager Simon Studdy, and grown into a month-by-month selection of processing and preparing Prime Angus steers to be sold to Treetops.
The sale of the animals directly to Treetops has been a success on several fronts:
- The School’s farm is more economically sustainable.
- Students can sample the meat studied in agriculture lessons or receive personal culinary feedback as a member of the Cattle Team.
- Higher quality product is sold to patrons in the School’s restaurant and café.
“The Cattle Team are breeding cattle producing high-quality cuts of meat that any commercial kitchen would be pleased to serve,” says Treetops head chef Anthony McGavin.
“The primal cuts are used daily for HVGS events, canteen lunch specials and even school fundraisers. We hope this program broadens into the supply of other meats such as lamb and pork in the future.”
Paddock to plate in action
Animals in the commercial herd are selected once the students have weighed and classed them in the correct conditional score. They are processed locally and delivered to Treetops in various cuts to meet the upcoming menu.
This arrangement is more than just the sale and consumption of the school beef. Pasture management and forage crops are all set based on a stocking rate, which changes due to this arrangement. Students in Year 11 who manage the pasture must consider that animals sold one at a time (rather than in groups as they were previously) will effect plant management and grazing choices on the farm.
The Program has increased not only the economic return of the farm but also the educational options for Senior School students by:
- witnessing alternate livestock management
- studying sustainable farming practices of commercial farms and
- influencing and understanding the end-to-end consumer and product lifecycle.