A five-year-old Te Uku School pupil and her grandfather, who farms on nearby Ohautira Road, are the faces of an online market launched recently to promote and sell free-range beef.
But while it’s the heartwarming portrait of Brooklyn and Cliff Bayliss down on the farm that seeks to draw in anyone who googles the new ‘Grandad’s Beef’ website, it’s the out-of-shot mother whose left arm can be seen steadying her toddler who is the real driving force behind the marketing initiative.
And 43-year-old Tracey Bayliss needs little introduction around the Raglan district: she was brought up and educated locally, bought a house in Violet Street 12 years ago and ran a beauty therapy business – Lime – from there and then downtown until three years ago.
Tracey – who still has a business, Lime Spa, in central Hamilton – says the “Grandad’s Beef” initiative actually came about through her beauty therapy studies and subsequently having conversations “all the time” with her Lime clients about health and nutrition.
That sparked a conversation with her father about chemical fertilisers, and it turned out he hadn’t used superphosphate for 30 years. He did use fish fertiliser years ago, but now bought in a “biological” product from Kiwi Fertiliser in Te Awamutu.
“It’s quite mind-blowing how I didn’t know that,” says Tracey.
This got her thinking about how farming was “all about the soil” and how it was “the same with the body – you look at what goes in internally to see the result (physically)”.
The analogy set her thinking in turn about making the beef from her father’s farm more available, so she turned to the internet to “get it (the message) out there”.
Says Cliff: “The online business takes advantage of what I’ve been doing for years. The health of the soil and pasture comes through in the meat and probably the milk too to give us a premium product.”
Tracey arranged tests through Hills Laboratories, and her father says these showed the trace elements like Omega 3 coming through in the beef. Adds Tracey: “We assumed it (the beef) had higher nutrients and now we can confirm this.”
She points to American research which is showing the omegas in grass-fed beef are higher than in the grain-fed product. “So it’s a big turnaround for America and there’s now a big market for grass-fed beef.”
Tracey sees the local product as presenting “a prime opportunity to farm in an environmentally friendly way and get really good quality beef that captures the wealthier market here and overseas”.
“There’s a definite market there so we say let’s get them buying our nutrient-dense sustainable product, let’s get more back to nature.”
She describes it as developing a “conscious” farming market as opposed to mass “industrial” farming. “And we’re not the only ones doing it … conscious farmers can be encouraged to pull together and we can build a portfolio which is useable for all farmers in New Zealand.”
Cliff adds the online business “seems to be going well”, with a steadily increasing number of orders since launching just before Christmas.